A comprehensive estate plan is usually more than the drafting of a Last Will and Testament. A comprehensive estate plan deals with the protection of the person in the event of a short-term incapacity or a long-term incapacity, as well as the determination of who makes medical decisions and legal decisions for that person during their life. A comprehensive estate plan will also provide for the protection of assets and the family upon death.
Having a designation of a health care agent or health care surrogate is possibly one of the most important decisions you will do as part of your estate planning. The health care agent will be the person who will make medical decisions for you if you cannot do them yourself. This is the person who can make the decision to save your life. You need to nominate a person who can make decision respecting your wishes and desires.
If you are married, the health care surrogate or health care agent will be your spouse. However, you can decide to name a different person in writing. Absent a writing, your spouse makes the medical decisions for you. In the event that your spouse is not available, you want to make sure that there is always one person at a time making those very important decision for you.
From medical decisions we move on to legal decision making. Incapacity may hit at any age. It can be due to an accident and for a short time or due to an illness for a long time. A Power of attorney names a person you trust to act on your behalf, as if it were you, when it comes to medical decisions, which can include but are not limited to: making checks, withdrawing or depositing money in your accounts, paying bills, acting on your behalf to file or defend a law suit, talk to the IRS, social security administration, house mortgage or insurance and anything other decision that is legal in nature.
Once your person is protected during your life, we plan for when you are no longer here to protect your assets and family members.