There are many decisions to make when it comes to estate planning. Many may think a will is all that is needed. However, there are other documents and protections that may be needed to complete the estate plan of a Michigan resident.

One essential document is a durable power of attorney. This gives someone the power to make financial decisions on the behalf of someone who is unable to do so. Some may assume that they should give this authority to someone who is closest to them personally. However, if that person is not good at handling money, that could be a mistake. There should be a back-up person named, too, just in case the first person would become incapacitated or mentally unable to handle financial decisions.

The other kind of power of attorney is a medical power of attorney. This gives someone the authority to make very important vital medical decisions. This person should know the wishes of the person they are speaking for. More importantly, it should be a person who is calm during a crisis or medical emergency. If that person is prepared ahead of time and can think clearly under pressure, a person’s wishes are more likely to be upheld as they were intended.

Devising a complete estate plan can be time-consuming, emotional and complicated. It is important that everyone involved understands their responsibilities and also knows what may be expected of them. Those in Michigan who are formulating an estate plan would benefit from being aware of the types of documents that they may be able to include in the process.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Four Estate Planning Documents Everyone Should Have”, Tom Lauricella, April 20, 2014

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