Archive for Estate Planning

Power of Attorney in Estate Planning: Why It Matters

handd holding a pen and signing paperwork

What is Power of Attorney?

The power of attorney is a powerful tool that can impact the lives of yourself, friends, and family long after the principal is deceased. “Power of attorney over a person, who is known as the principal, is most often utilized when the individual handing over power has concerns about their ability to make legal decisions for themselves,” says the Attorney Referral Service by the San Francisco bar association, which can help potential agents (or those who possess power of attorney) claim power of attorney in California.

The power of attorney is not only useful in legal or financial situations involving a deceased person’s estate. Any time you need someone to act in legal matters on your behalf, you can bestow upon them power of attorney to handle your affairs.

You can assign power of attorney for the duration of a short business deal or after a specific future event comes to pass. Some people assign power of attorney for matters of convenience in business, but it is most often used in wills to designate an agent in case of debilitation or death on the part of the principal.

For Your Parents

Having a conversation with your parents about their deaths is not easy business. However, it is a necessary evil we must all eventually go through, and it is better to get it out of the way when your parents are still of sound mind and body.

Encouraging your parents to draft a will or estate plan is in their best interests as well as yours. This becomes especially prudent if you or your parents have a lot of siblings. Estate planning is a great way to ensure that your parent’s friends and loved ones will not be distracted by petty disagreements or confusion after the principal’s death and can focus on mourning properly.

Sit down with your siblings, parents, and any other interested parties to hash out who should be preemptively assigned power of attorney.

For Yourself and Your Children

If one of your children or a third party contests your will after death, your family could be in for a drawn out and painful process. The contestation of a will can lead to more than hurt feelings between loved ones: your last wishes may not be met.

To avoid sowing conflict between family members, you can preemptively assign power of attorney. This itself may lead to hurt feelings, if one child or sibling feels as though they would better serve as the executor of your estate. But it is better to hurt feelings now, when you are alive, than to subject your mourning loved ones later to even more grief and heartache.

Take a hard look at your children, siblings, and spouse. Who has the best understanding of your desires for your assets post-mortem? What does the divestment of your state look like to you? It is important not only to choose someone who has a thorough knowledge of your value system, but also who is fair and balanced in their treatment of others. You want an agent who can navigate strong feelings and who will not take things too personally when things inevitably get heated in the divestment process.

How to Choose an Agent

The nature of being an agent with power of attorney necessitates an even keeled and fair judgment. When choosing an agent for yourself, you should look for someone who has a thorough understanding of what you would like done with your assets after death or debilitation. You want to take care that your agent is committed to the full realization of your wishes after your demise.

If you believe you are a good fit to be an agent for a principal, make your intentions known during the estate planning process. Demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of the principal’s values and communicate how you would handle any disputes which may arise between family or friends during the execution of the estate.

Choosing an agent to receive power of attorney goes beyond planning for one’s death. If you have health issues or would just like to prepare for any worst-case scenario imaginable, consider a durable power of attorney over a general power of attorney. A durable power of attorney will retain legal standing in the case of your incapacitation, whereas a general power of attorney’s purview ends the moment you become incapacitated.

If you get sick or are otherwise injured and need someone to act on your behalf, it is prudent to assign a durable power of attorney to a trusted individual.

4 Reasons You Might Need an Estate for Your Assets

4 Reasons You Might Need an Estate for Your Assets

4 Reasons You Might Need an Estate for Your AssetsEveryone knows you need to plan for your financial future. This means having some type of retirement savings. Most people also know that you should have a will. But, what not all people realize?is that you should also consider setting up an estate.

You might be thinking, “Oh I don?t have a lot of assets or?a bank account with millions of?dollars, so I don?t need an estate.” But that thinking may be wrong.

Now admittedly, not everyone needs an estate. Sometimes a will is just fine. But, an estate can be a better?way to plan for the distribution of assets than a will or living will. Here are some reasons why an estate may be a better option.


When someone passes away and there is a will, it goes to probate. Probate is the public hearing by a judge to determine if the will is the latest and most up-to-date document for distribution of assets. This is all fine and dandy until someone contests it.

In some families this can get dirty. As it is public information, anyone can look it up and contest the will. Putting your will into an estate avoids probate and allows for less contention of the will and final testament.

Setting Up Power of Attorney

Everyone should have a power of attorney, no matter what. By creating a power of attorney with your estate, the person you designate is able to follow your last wishes to every detail. It can also help smooth things over with family members. But you should still have a discussion about such matters when you are still alive.

Makes Passing Down Assets Easier

Setting up an estate can help avoid some of the estate tax and inheritance tax that many states have in place. This means more of the assets you own will be able to be passed down to others instead of being subject to as many taxes. As mentioned, an estate also makes information about who is getting what private and offers less cause for discord among family members.

This privacy can also be valuable if you want to donate assets to charity or other institutions. If you are passing down?assets to minors, an estate will ensure that the money is managed correctly until they can manage it by themselves.

Protects Beneficiaries

Estates are great for protecting the beneficiaries who get your assets. As stated above, an estate helps protects minors who may?be receiving money. Sometimes this is set up in a trust. By creating an estate plan you designate who will be the trustee of the minor’s inheritance until they are old enough to manage it.

An estate can also help protect an adult from their own misfortune or possible mishandling from other family members. For example, if you wanted to give assets?to your granddaughter, but not her husband, an estate can help you can set it up in the best interest of?your granddaughter where her husband can’t access the assets.

Any plan of action for the future is a good start. A great plan is having an estate and making sure that minor children are taken care of should you pass unexpectedly, as well as ensuring that your last wishes are carried out. Having an estate plan makes things less questionable and can give your loved ones peace of mind, knowing they don?t have to worry about these things.


Do you have an estate plan? What are you plans for protecting and passing on assets?


Photo courtesy of: Ashish_Choudhary

When Death Do You Part – Is Your Family Prepared?

Death Elementary mexico

Death Elementary mexicoHere?s a morbid topic to greet you on a Monday morning. Dealing and thinking about our own death is something that we shun, with a vengeance! Wills and similar items related to our own mortality are many times ignored, at times to the survivor?s detriment.
But this post is not about wills, it?s about all of the little things you own and do on a daily basis that your family?doesn’t?have much insight into. Read more

Estate Planning – Our Return From Miami

Estate Planning Flamingo

Estate Planning FlamingoWell, we’re back from Miami and have made a few strides in my Dad’s late, but necessary, estate planning. Actually, it’s a lot more than estate planning at this point we’re looking at hiring a cleaning service and working with their doctors to see about home health care. I guess you could just as well categorize our activities as elder care or elder law. Read more

Estate Planning – It’s Never Too Early

Estate Planning - Jose and FerminaWe spent most of last Friday driving from North Carolina to Miami, Florida. That was a 15 hour butt numbing drive with a few stops for food and recirculation (of the legs and?behinds). Read more