By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney
It’s fantastic that you were recently married! Congratulations! You have begun a chapter in your life that will be both rewarding and full of new adventures. Getting married is also one of the signs that you have matured and have become a real adult in society. As an adult, and now that you are a newlywed, there are some specific reasons why you should consider completing your own Idaho estate planning to protect yourself and your new spouse into the future.
Below is a list of the four main documents that are included in an Idaho estate plan that could help you and your family.
Durable Power of Attorney
Your durable power of attorney is probably the most important estate planning document that you can prepare for yourself and your family. A durable power of attorney gives you the ability to specifically name individuals, including your new spouse, who will have the legal authority to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so for yourself. Many people would think that only older couples should consider getting a durable power of attorney. However, life is uncertain. An illness or injury could change an individual’s life and circumstances at any time.
Under Idaho law, if you do not have a durable power of attorney and you suddenly become incapacitated because of injury or illness the law then requires a legal guardian to be named for you. This is called a guardianship proceeding. It is a hearing that is held in court that is similar to a trial. Witnesses are called including your family. Additionally, physicians are usually called, as well as other individuals to testify concerning your need for a guardian and who your guardian should be. The court then makes an independent decision as to who your legal guardian will be. It’s possible that the court could name somebody that you would not have chosen for yourself.
Additionally, guardianship proceedings are very expensive. As mentioned above many people are involved. At the very least there will be two attorneys involved. The costs for a legal guardianship could easily exceed $1500 to $2,000. Furthermore, as mentioned above, your family may not agree on who should be named as your legal guardian. This could result in a fight between family members about who they believe should be appointed. You can avoid all these family fights, and you can avoid the expense of a guardianship proceeding, simply by obtaining your own durable power of attorney.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
Similarly, a power of attorney for health care is all so vitally important. While this power of attorney has a limited scope, and is only concerned with making medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated, it is still important. You have the ability to choose the individual who will make these decisions for you.
The decisions that will be made under a power of attorney for Health Care include which doctors you may visit, which medicines you may take, and which medical procedures you might receive. And also gives the individual to make decisions about whether you should refuse these types of care or suggestions from your medical and health care providers.
A living will is the document that you get to use to make end-of-life decisions. The circumstances are usually that because of an injury or illness you cannot communicate and you are on life support. The reason you are on life support is because the injury or illness has left you in a condition where you have no ability to survive on your own. Essentially, the machines are keeping you alive.
Under normal circumstances the doctors would go to your family and ask what they would like to do. However, with a living will, you have the ability right now, while your mind is functioning normally, to make a decision for yourself. You get to decide whether you want the doctors to continue to keep you alive on the machines or whether you would prefer that they would turn the machines off at allow you to die normally and naturally.
By using a living will you are taking the burden of making this decision off the shoulders of your family. Again, this is important because your family may not all agree on what should be done. Because it is your life, you should be given the opportunity to make this decision for yourself.
Last Will and Testament
The final document that is a part of your basic estate plan is a last will and testament. This document only becomes affected after you die. The purpose of this document is really nothing more than for you to make decisions about who your money, property, and assets will be given to after you die.
In your last will and testament you have the ability to name somebody to be your personal representative. This individual is tasked with the responsibility of carrying out the instructions that you have left in your last will and testament. By creating a last will and testament you have the ability to make decisions about who you want to be involved in carrying out your instructions, and who you want to give your property too. If you do not create a last will and testament, really any family member can petition the court to do these things for you. Additionally, Idaho statutes will decide who your property goes to.
ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU
When it comes to estate planning or probate you should never try to do it alone. If you have questions for yourself or for your family and loved ones, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.