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Power of attorney an essential estate planning basic

When it comes to estate planning basics, wills and trusts tend to top the list of topics. Wills are of course a necessary part of virtually any estate plan and trusts have many possible benefits, but estate planners often leave a very important document out of the mix -- a power of attorney. Durable powers of attorney can help loved ones avoid confusion and difficult decisions in the face of otherwise terrible situations.

Parents in Oklahoma retain the power to make medical decisions for children under 18 years old, but after that, the decision making process is much less clear. The parents of medically incapacitated adult who is unable to make decisions for him or herself will not necessarily be able to step in and guide health care providers toward care that the individual would approve. In some instances, a person might not even feel comfortable with his or her parents stepping into that role.

The durable power of attorney allows a named individual to make decisions on an incapacitated person's behalf. He or she can even be authorized to use funds from a bank account in order to address medical expenses for emergency care. This person does not have to be a parent or even related and can simply be an exceptionally trusted individual.

Without any guidance for health care decisions, an individual's medical crisis can lead to feuds between family members over who should be allowed to make decisions. Certain treatments or decisions might even be called into question or challenged by a fellow family member, and the quality of a person's care can dwindle. More importantly, without a durable power of attorney, a person's health care wishes might not even be honored in the first place. When establishing an estate plan, those in Oklahoma who are seeking the most basic protection for themselves and their estate should be sure to consider the myriad of benefits provided by a power of attorney.

Source: Forbes, "Ask the Estate Planners: What Documents Do I Need To Start An Estate Plan?", Feb. 12, 2016

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