By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney
My goal as an estate planning attorney is to do exactly what it is my clients want to do so long as it is legally and morally right. Sometimes this means disinheriting a child from their estate for various reasons. Alternatively, it may also mean that my client would rather give their estate to a charity than to their family. Or it could be favoring one child more than another when it comes to dispersing and distributing assets from my clients’ estate. So long as my clients can provide me with an articulable reason for their intention, I am happy to assist them and help them.
In the past, when I have assisted my clients with getting their estate planning done, I have had many of them insist that the only document they need is a last will and testament. I do my best to help my clients understand that while this document is important, it is not the only document that they should have as part of their estate plan. In fact, in my opinion, the last will and testament is the least important document they need.
I personally believe the most important document my clients can have in their estate plan is the durable power of attorney. The reason this may be the most important document is because it could have an impact on my clients’ lives for many years.
The durable power of attorney document is designed to give my clients the ability to name someone who will help them with or take over dealing with their finances and property if my client can no longer do it themselves. For example, if my client were to have Alzheimer’s disease, and no longer be able to pay their bills and deal with their bank accounts or finances, the person they have named in their durable power of attorney will be able to seamlessly step in and take over those responsibilities to help my client with these important things for the rest of their lives.
The durable power of attorney allows my clients to stay in charge when these things have to happen. Without the durable power of attorney, my client’s family would be forced to go to court to do a guardianship and conservatorship proceeding. During this court process, just about any person could put their hat in the ring claiming to be the best person to be appointed by the court to help my client with these things. This often leads to family fights about who should actually be appointed. In the end, the court makes the final decision.
But this may not be the end of the process. When the court makes an appointment for a guardian and conservator. They usually only name one person. Then, if this person can no longer do it, there has to be a new hearing and the process starts all over again for the court to appoint someone else.
These types of guardianship hearings are expensive. More importantly, as stated, my clients no longer have the ability to say what they want to have happened or who they want to be put in charge. Irreparable family fights often occur as well destroying relationships between family members.
So, in my opinion, in addition to getting your last will and testament, you should not avoid the need for getting your own durable power of attorney done as well. The hope would be that you would never need to rely on that document. However, if you do need to, and you do not have the document there, it can result in an expensive, bitter, and destructive experience for your family members and loved ones.
If you have questions about how a durable power of attorney might protect you, we can help. Please contact us for a free 30-minute consultation where we can answer your questions about durable powers of attorney and other estate planning possibilities. We have assisted numerous clients in the creation of their own customized estate plans, and we are confident that we can help you too!
ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU
If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.