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The benefits of drafting advance directives and powers of attorney

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | estate planning and probate | 0 comments

Many testators in Michigan only establish bare-bones estate plans. They have a will and possibly nothing else on record. Adults understand the financial and legal protection that they can derive from an estate plan. They may see the value in naming the representative who administers their estates or choosing beneficiaries to inherit their most valuable assets.

Instead of stopping after the creation of a will, many Michiganders might benefit from adding additional documents to their estate plans. Advance medical directives and powers of attorney can be important inclusions in a modern estate plan.

Control in uncontrollable circumstances

Maybe a testator has a chronic illness that occasionally worsens and leaves them in need of extensive medical intervention. Perhaps they just have specific medical preferences because of their religion. Anyone who becomes incapacitated might be unable to communicate their wishes to others or may lack the capacity to make choices on their own behalf. Advance directives provide very clear instructions about someone’s medical preferences.

Powers of attorney can name a specific agent to handle someone’s medical affairs. Durable powers of attorney can protect people from scenarios in which they become permanently incapacitated and might otherwise be subject to a court-ordered guardianship. Those who take the time to draft documents before their health declines can feel confident that their wishes determine what happens with their medical support in the future.

Peace of mind in an unpredictable world

Some people assume that they do not need an advance directive or powers of attorney because they have close family relationships. They may count on their spouse to speak up about their medical wishes in an emergency. However, the tragic reality is that sometimes the same incident that incapacitates one person causes similar or worse medical consequences for their closest loved ones. Someone left in a coma after a car crash may not be able to rely on their spouse for support if their spouse was also in the vehicle at the time of the wreck.

Even if close family members are available in an emergency, those other than a spouse don’t have any authority unless there are documents empowering them. Additionally, even a spouse may sometimes feel confused about an individual’s medical preferences. The act of intentionally committing one’s wishes to writing and naming a trusted individual to carry out those wishes can help someone feel confident about their access to support in an emergency.

Peace of mind and personal control are powerful incentives to add advance directives and powers of attorney to a Michigan estate plan. Expanding on basic testamentary documents can give people protection from a broader range of personal circumstances.