Everyone has heard about the need to have a will, however there are other documents that are just as important and just as necessary. Your will only goes into effect after you have died and it is admitted to probate. While you are alive it essential to have your powers of attorney and advance directives.
You need a Medical Power of Attorney. If you have a stroke or are sedated in an operating room or otherwise cannot makes health care decisions for yourself, you need to have a delegate who will make health decisions for you. Not the doctor, not the minister, and maybe not your child or parent. Your delegate needs to know how you feel about feeding tubes, limb amputation, and cancer treatments. Your delegate needs the ability to put personal feelings aside to follow your wishes.
You need a Directive to Physicians. Death is inevitable, so let’s put some controls on human intervention. This form gives your instructions to your physicians as to how you want to be treated in the event of a terminal illness. Don’t leave your family standing around your hospital bed trying to make a decision. Make the decision yourself, in advance.
You need a Designation of Guardian. At some point in your life you may become incapacitated from dementia or other disease. A designation is your chance to tell the Judge who you want to be your guardian and who you don’t want to be your guardian. You need to execute this document while you are still competent.
There are actually two types – guardian of the person and guardian of the estate. The powers of attorney described in this article are your first defense against a guardian being necessary. The declaration is the way to control your destiny if a power of attorney does not hold up.
You need a Durable Power of Attorney. Designate someone to act for you on financial matters. You can make it effective immediately, or you can delay so it only takes effect if you are incapable of making your own decisions (think stroke or alzheimer’s). Do it now, while you are able to put together a portfolio of your assets.
Your designated attorney-in-fact can pay your bills, make investment decisions, sell real estate and deposit checks. You can specify additional powers in the form, including making gifts.
You may need a directive concerning funeral arrangements. You have the right to appoint the person of your choice to be in charge of your funeral arrangements and to direct what those arrangements should be.
You may need a trust, a corporation, a family partnership or some version thereof. Got enough assets and this becomes very worthwhile. Do it right and you may even garner tax advantages. These entities are not for the faint of heart and do-it-yourselfers.
In general. Make sure you use the Texas statutory form for the powers of attorney, designation of guardian and directive to physician. Doctors, lawyers and courts recognize the forms and are
more apt to follow them.