|Frequently Asked Questions
|What are the most important estate planning documents?
|The two documents that every person over the age of 18 should have are a Durable Power
of Attorney and a Health Care Proxy.
What is a Health Care Proxy?
A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to name a person to make health care
decisions for you if you are unable to make or communicate your own decisions regarding
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you designate a person to handle
all of your financial and other affairs (other than health care) for you if you become
incapacitated and are unable to handle your own affairs.
Why do I need a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney?
If you do not have these two documents and you become incapacitated, there is no one who is
legally authorized to make health care decisions for you, or act on your behalf in legal matters.
Couldn't my spouse or another family member just handle my affairs?
NO. No other person, including your spouse, has the legal right to act on your behalf. No one
else has the authority to sign checks, sign and file tax returns, deal with banks or insurance
companies, convey real estate, or handle many other matters.
What if I do not have these two documents and I become incapacitated?
Someone must go to Probate Court and file a petition for Legal Guardianship. This is a very
expensive and time consuming process. It must also be published in the local newspaper that
you are incompetent. A judge would decide who will be your legal guardian, and must approve
most major decisions. You would, in effect, become a ward of the court and you would have
no control over whom the court appoints to handle all of your affairs.
Aren't these documents for the elderly, why should my 18 year old child have them?
Anyone can become incapacitated at any age, whether because of an accident, illness or
some other catastrophe. Once you turn age 18, you are an adult, therefor parents can no
longer act on your behalf. Incapacity does not happen just to the elderly.