A good estate plan includes several documents that provide direction on how your medical and financial decisions should be handled if you are mentally or physically incapacitated. Your Last Will and Testament determines how your assets are to be distributed to your beneficiaries upon your death.
An attorney will assist you in preparing your estate planning documents. Attorney John Vierthaler puts together a package of documents which includes your Last Will and Testament, General Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Durable Power of Attorney and Advanced Directives/Living Will. These documents work in concert with each other in determining who should care for you when you are incapacitated and who should be responsible for managing your finances. Depending on your needs for tax planning, you may have a team of professionals and tax advisors involved in your estate plan. Your Financial Advisor and Certified Public Accountant may be consulted in order to address tax liability in your estate plan.
If you are considering a Revocable Trust, you will need to appoint a Trustee. It is important that any Trustee you appoint understands their responsibilities and authority in managing your trust.
Also, an agent under a Power of Attorney has a duty and liability to act in the best interests of the principal. Many Powers of Attorney give extensive authority over the principal’s financial affairs.
Involvement of legal counsel will provide effective drafting of the correct documents and the attorney can meet with the appointed fiduciaries under the principal’s Will and Powers of Attorney to discuss and clarify the duties and responsibilities of a medical or financial agent.
Estate planning documents are powerful tools used in tax and disability planning. The standards of care in exercising authority under a power of attorney can be addressed with Attorney John Vierthaler to maintain proper communication with clients and their families.
Excerpts from “Estate Planning” and “So now you are a Trustee” brochures on Colorado Bar Association webpage, www.cobar.org