Whether you are rich or poor, it is imperative that you name your trusted health care and financial agent. If you do not, and you are later deemed incapacitated (ie you are no longer able to make your own health care decisions or manage your own financial affairs), the court will appoint a person to act as your guardian (the person who makes health care decisions for you) and your conservator (the person who will manage your finances). Do you really want a judge who has never met you and who will make a decision based upon limited information presented in court to decide who is best able to act as your guardian and conservator? If you have any reservations about family members (children, siblings, parents) fulfilling this role, you should act immediately. If you do not have close family members to fulfill this role, you should still designate your preferred person (neighbor, friend), rather than allowing the court to appoint a “professional” guardian or conservator.
Through my experience as a trial attorney, I learned that judges and juries are limited in the information they can receive about a person – especially character evidence. Just because you think someone is dishonest or has a criminal record does not mean that information will be “allowed” in court. A judge or jury can actually be prohibited from considering or even learning of a person’s past character flaws unless strict requirements are met. I know this is shocking, but it is true.
It is imperative that you exercise the control you have while you are healthy and have the mental capacity to designate your preferred agents. Designating a health care agent and an attorney in fact (agent under your power of attorney who takes the place of a court-appointed conservator) is easily accomplished. During our estate planning process, we address the following:
Your religious beliefs (Jehovah Witness, LDS, Jewish, Catholic, etc.)
Special provisions if you experience dementia
How to address your agent if he or she objects to your direction to remove life support or tube feeding
To supply human contact if you are dying
Maximizing pain and anxiety relief
Expressing your wishes regarding autopsy
Compensating your health care agent
Your desire for home care over an assisted living facility
Naming an agent for your children
Addressing your desire to receive alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage
Address whether life support or tube feeding provisions apply if you are pregnant
These provisions are not included in standard advance directive forms, but if they are important to you, you should express your wishes in the written document and bind your trusted agent to carry out your wishes.
A power of attorney document must be custom drafted for your unique situation. Alex Kincaid's Powers of Attorney include many provisions that are commonly overlooked in internet forms or by general practitioners.
We would love to meet with you and answer your questions. Call us at 208-345-6308 to schedule your free estate planning consultation, where you can ask all your questions about living trusts and make an informed decision about the plan that will be best for you and your family. We serve clients in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Star, Emmett, the Treasure Valley, the Magic Valley, Twin Falls, Mountain Home in Idaho, including Ada County, Canyon County, Gem County, Twin Falls County and elsewhere in Idaho. We also service client in Portland, Lake Oswego, Gold Beach, Brookings, Port Orford, Medford, Oregon, and all over the Pacific Northwest!