Two teenagers in Independence, Missouri were killed in a car crash recently after being stopped by police less than an hour before. Two other teen passengers were also injured in the wreck. The group had been pulled over by police in Excelsior Springs shortly before, but were released after the driver purportedly passed the field sobriety tests and showed no signs of impairment. The horrific crash closed Highway 291. The 19-year-old driver and a 17-year-old passenger were killed in the fiery wreck. This is only one example of why estate planning is so important.
Teens allowed to continue driving
Excelsior Springs police have reported that the teens had been pulled over 45 minutes before the fatal wreck. Although the officer reported smelling alcohol, no alcohol was found in the vehicle and the driver showed no sign of impairment. He also passed a series of field sobriety tests and the alcohol detected in his system was below Missouri’s legal limit for arrest.
Estate planning can prepare your family for the unexpected
Estate planning is one way to prepare yourself and your family for death and even for the possibility of incapacity during your lifetime. There are a several different options when it comes to estate planning tools. Which ones are best for you will depend on your unique goals for the future. Your Missouri estate planning attorney can be of great assistance.
Incapacity planning is important for everyone
The legal definition of incapacity is the inability to comprehend the consequences of certain legal proceedings, including entering into contracts or signing legal documents. Incapacity could be caused by either a physical or mental condition and can be temporary or permanent. Now, when it comes to estate planning matters, incapacity refers to the inability of an individual to manage his or her own affairs and to make important legal decisions for themselves. Without an appropriate estate plan that addresses incapacity issues, you could end up being appointed a court-supervised conservator or guardian.
Some of the most common tools used for incapacity planning
Two of the most common instruments used when planning for incapacity are Health Care Powers of Attorney and Financial Powers of Attorney. The Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a representative who will have the authority to make decisions regarding medical care and treatment for you when you can’t. Health Care Powers of Attorney are usually drafted so that they take effect even in cases of temporary incapacity. On the other hand, a Financial Power of Attorney does pretty much the same thing, except the person you select will have the ability to manage your financial affairs.
Consider using a durable power of attorney
A major benefit of creating a durable power of attorney is the ability to do away with confusion and ambiguity as to how your personal affairs should be handled. A well-drafted durable power of attorney can help you avoid the frequent family disputes as to how your financial and healthcare matters should be handled.
The reality is, when a loved one becomes legally incompetent, their family should not be wasting their time fighting over decisions regarding medical treatment or finances. Instead, there should already be someone who will step in and make the necessary decisions. If you plan ahead by using a durable power of attorney, you can avoid most of those disputes.
Examples of different power of attorney options
- General Financial Power of Attorney. A general financial power of attorney allows the agent to transact any or all business, other than health care, for the principal.
- Durable Financial Power of Attorney. A durable financial power of attorney remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A durable power of attorney for health care gives the person you designate the power to make health care decisions for you. These decisions can include consent, refusal of consent, or withdrawal of consent to any care, treatment, service, or procedure to maintain, diagnose, or treat a physical or mental condition.
- Military Power of Attorney: Federal laws make special provisions for the drafting of powers of attorney for Military personnel, in order to allow a spouse or other agent to handle their affairs while they are deployed.
It may seem pretty simple, but there is a huge benefit in being able to choose an agent to handle your personal matters on your behalf. If you do not select that person now, and you later become incapacitated, a judge will make that decision for you.
Join us for a FREE workshop! If you have questions regarding powers of attorney, or any other incapacity planning matters, contact Gaughan & Connealy for a consultation either online or by calling us at (816) 974-3030.