Bruce Willis was recently diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia which can affect a person’s ability to speak and write. When people think of estate planning, I think a lot of them only consider what happens to their assets after their death. My clients want to protect their children and their legacy, but what we routinely forget about is protecting ourselves during our own lives. For example, in Bruce Willis’ case if he doesn’t have a general durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney and eventually his condition puts him in a position where it becomes more difficult for him to care for himself, a judge is going to decide who gets to make decisions on his behalf.
In Washington state this is decision is made through a guardianship, conservatorship, or other protective arrangement, but at the end of each of these types of cases the court appoints a person, an Agent, to act on behalf of the incapacitated person. That Agent acts on behalf of the incapacitated person by managing finances, paying bills, selling assets, and making healthcare decisions to the extent the court has granted the Agent the power to do so.
Alternatively, by planning ahead and executing a general durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney document my clients can decide for themselves who would manage their affairs and look out for their best interest if they one day were incapacitated permanently or even temporarily. The use of two separate documents allows clients to choose the best person for the job. For example, I’m the business type person in my family. I read the fine print on the documents before I sign them (even though no one does that!) and it makes the most sense for me to be named as the general durable power of attorney for my family members to manage bills and finances. My sister is the medical field and is therefore more equipped to make the best medical decisions for our family.
A little bit of planning can save time, expense, and stress in the event you ever need someone to assist in your care.
We can help you create or modify your estate planning documents so that they are accurate and work for you in case you ever need to use them. Schedule a consultation with out legal team to get started.