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Estate planners shouldn't forget power of attorney considerations

Estate planning can be difficult. Not only does it force us to consider topics we do not like to think about, like death, but it can also be fraught with legal complexities. While these issues may be intricate and confusing for many, they are vitally important. Failing to plan an estate properly can lead to unwanted consequences. Money may end up in the hands of someone who does not deserve it, and the estate planner did not intend to receive it. To avoid these unwanted outcomes, individuals should seek legal help addressing several legal issues.

Perhaps the most well-known legalities of estate planning are wills and trusts. A trust can be built into a will and can help the planner direct how his or her money will be treated after death. When properly established, a will and a trust can protect the estate for several years. However, wills and trusts are not the end of estate planning. Individuals must also consider issues revolving around power of attorney.

A power of attorney allows someone to act for an individual in the event he or she becomes incapacitated. Choosing whom to appoint to this position can be difficult, as it carries heavy responsibilities. The person acting in this capacity often makes important financial decisions that can have an effect on the estate. Though the position can be delegated to more than one person, choosing this route can lead to a convoluted decision-making process. Those considering power of attorney should ensure they create a durable power of attorney, which allows the agent to continue to act for the principal, even after the principal is incapacitated.

Those who are planning their estates should also consider creating a health care power of attorney. By creating one of these through a living will, an individual can delegate a trusted relative or friend to make health care decisions for the will creator, including end-of-life care. With the potential for complicated healthcare decisions to arise, the estate planner should carefully choose who they want to act in this position.

Estate planning is complex and oftentimes scary. A St. Paul attorney can help ease any concerns an individual may have and assist in developing an estate plan that works in his or her best interests.

Source: Market Watch, "5 estate-plan strategies for boomers," Andrea Coombes, Nov. 29, 2013

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