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Powers of attorney are an essential estate planning tool

It can be easy for Massachusetts residents to forget that estate planning is not just about transferring property to family and friends upon death. Some documents are executed that put plans into place in case you are unable to make decisions and/or care for yourself during life. Powers of attorney are important for any adult since none of us knows when an accident or illness may strike.

A health care proxy and health care power of attorney work together to make your wishes known when it comes to what medical treatment you would or would not like if you were incapacitated. The proxy expresses your wishes, and the power of attorney gives your agent the power to make sure your wishes are followed. Furthermore, if an issue comes up that is not included in the proxy, your agent can make the decision for you. The key is to be sure that your agent understands what you want.

The same could be said for a durable power of attorney, which gives your agent the right to make decisions for you. Most of those decisions will involve property and the protection of your assets. You can give your agent as much or as little power as you feel comfortable with in this document.

One vitally important factor in the execution of powers of attorney is that you trust the person or person you appoint to act on your behalf. Even though many Massachusetts residents leave these types of decisions to their spouses, there is no guarantee that a spouse will be able -- or even willing -- to serve as one's agent. Fortunately, these documents can be tailored to your circumstances and family dynamic, so long as they comply with current law and do not violate public policy.

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