9. If I give someone a power of attorney to transfer my property, do I still need a will or trust?
A power of attorney is a legal document by which you can grant to another person (usually a spouse or child) the legal authority to act on your behalf with regard to certain legal and financial transactions, such as transferring property, accessing a bank account, or filing an insurance or benefit claim. A power of attorney, however, dies with the person and cannot be used post death to distribute a decedent’s property. It is not a substitute for a will or trust.
10. What is a Living Will vs. Will?
Many times, we are asked about the difference between a Will and a Living Will. Although they sound similar, they have two very different functions.
When you are putting together an estate plan, it consists of two parts. There are the documents that speak for you while you are alive, but you cannot speak for yourself due to illness or incapacity and there are documents that speak for you when you pass away. A Living Will falls into the category of documents that speak for you while you are alive and a Will falls into the category of documents that speak for you once you have passed away.
A Living Will contains your thoughts and wishes regarding whether you do or do not want to be kept alive by artificial means if you are at a point, due to accident or illness, where the doctor says there is no longer a hope of recovery for you. It is a chance to give your family guidance as they struggle, in a highly emotional situation, to figure out what you would have wanted them to decide for you.
A Will contains your wishes for how you want what you own to be distributed among your family and friends once you pass away. It can also contain instructions for the care and support of your family members, such as naming a guardian for your minor children. It is a road map of instructions that should be prepared in accordance with the laws of the state in which you reside.
So, since they serve two completely different but equally important functions, it is prudent to have both a Living Will and Will.
For more information, please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Rooney & Rooney, P.A.