Estate Planning: Knowing the Difference Between Will, Living Will and Power of Attorney
Oct 29, 2019
Making sure you have all the necessary estate planning documents completed is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Understanding what the legal documents in your estate plan do, is just as important. The estate planning documents everyone should have are a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will, Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Power of Attorney for Finances. Let’s explore what each of the documents are for.
LAST WILL & TESTAMENT
The Last Will and Testament enables you to choose who you want to be in charge of handling your estate, known as a personal representative. Your Will dictates who gets what and how much they will receive. If you have minor children, your Will also appoints a guardian for your children. A Last Will and Testament can only take effect after your death. (See our blog, "What Happens if You Die Without a Will")
The Living Will is also known as the Declaration to Physicians in Wisconsin. The Living Will informs your doctors what types of life sustaining medical treatment you do, or do not, want with regards to end of life decisions. The Living Will only goes into effect once your doctors decide that you are unable to make your own decisions because you are terminally ill, near death or in a persistent vegetative state. The Living Will does not allow you to appoint someone to make those decisions for you.
POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTHCARE
The Power of Attorney for Healthcare allows you to appoint a person to make healthcare decisions for you. Your Power of Attorney can review your Living Will to know what life sustaining treatments you do, and do not, want. The Power of Attorney goes into effect once your doctors decided you are unable to make your own decisions because you are terminally ill, near death or in a persistent vegetative state.
POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR FINANCES
The Power of Attorney for Finances allows you to appoint a person to handle your finances. You can choose which powers the person you appoint are able to handle, including, but not limited to, real estate, bank accounts, retirement plans, insurance and annuities, government benefits, operation of business and taxes. It is important to note that the Power of Attorney for Finances is effective immediately unless you state a future occurrence that will activate it, such as if you become incapacitated or incompetent.
Completing the appropriate estate planning documents is important; knowing that they are completed properly is imperative. Pedersen Law Office, LLC can help you have that peace of mind. We offer free consults to get to know you and your circumstances personally. Our law office serves the communities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, Green Bay and their surrounding areas.