I was honored to meet Bill Moller as I talked with him about Estate Planning over the 4th of July weekend. (Click here to listen to our interview!) Speaking on the radio can be intimidating, especially when the studio is right on Michigan Avenue. People are walking by and waiving, so I felt like a celebrity just talking with Bill and answering questions. Bill is a great host and put me at ease instantly so I could focus on the subject.
Your Living Will and Power of Attorney – it’s important to do it now. If you drafted a will in your 20s, 30s or even 40s, you may think, “I’m done for life.” Nobody wants to talk about it. But stuff does happen. And you’ll create a lot less anxiety for loved ones if you make these decisions now.
A Health Care Power of Attorney is used for medical decisions such as health care, hospital, and life support. A Property Power of Attorney is basically for other assets so the specific people you name can access them on your behalf if for some reason you can’t – and they are both important.
My brother suffered from a heart attack several years ago. While he wasn’t incapacitated, my having power of attorney made it possible to act on his behalf when otherwise I could not. Also, confusion might occur if you’ve assigned multiple powers of attorney over the years – it’s imperative to have help when you need it, including being clear on who can act under the power, which powers of attorney are revoked and which one is current.
The Power of Attorney law in Illinois has changed to become more user friendly, but there’s a lot more regulation/concern about what the agent (person named to act on your behalf) is doing. The standards for power of attorney are higher too, due to privacy laws, HIPPA and exploitation in the past.
Your Living Will shouldn’t be confused with your Last Will. The Living Will deals with whether you want extraordinary measures used to keep you alive in extreme cases, such as when you have a terminal, incurable or irreversible condition. The Last Will determines how your property and money will transfer after you are gone. It’s best to have all these documents because each one deals with something different. Carol from Peoria called in to share that her father remarried after her mother had passed, but had never changed the will to include his current wife. There was confusion and a court process ensued.
Many people say, “I don’t have an estate. Why should I do this?” What they don’t realize is that by having a life insurance policy, retirement plan, or a house, you have an estate.
Things change all too quickly and sometimes unexpectedly, and in those times you want to make sure things go the way you want. Be sure to protect your family now so that they are covered later.