Everyone in Massachusetts has been told at one time or another that they should have a will. It's true that wills are a vital part of estate planning, but they are really only the beginning. Once a will is drafted, there are several other documents that round out an estate plan.
Powers of Attorney are documents that are drafted for use when a person becomes incapacitated or unable to make decisions on his or her own. Decisions will be made on the maker's behalf by a person designated by maker. The most common powers of attorney are for financial decisions and medical decisions. A financial power of attorney can spare a family from having to go to court to give someone the right to deal with financial decisions. That process can be expensive and waste precious time.
A medical power of attorney allows the attorney-in-fact to make decisions regarding the medical care of the maker. This document can be as narrow or broad as desired. The only document that can override a medical power of attorney is a living will. This document outlines the desires of the maker should he or she become incapacitated and faces a terminal condition. The maker will have the right to choose how much or how little treatment he or she would like at the end.
Death is not the only time that a Massachusetts resident may need documentation regarding their wishes. Wills are only valid upon death, but there is always the possibility that a person can become incapacitated in some way. During those times, it is important for family and friends to know where to turn and what to do on a person's behalf.
Source: gazette.com, MONEY & THE LAW: Estate planning goes beyond wills, Jim Flynn, Sept. 15, 2013