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Living will and durable power of attorney part of estate planning

In some Michigan families, the family all sits down together and irons out the details regarding how one's estate and affairs will be handled when his or her time comes. In other families, there is no discussion or action taken, and the family simply must abide by the court's decisions regarding the loved one's estate. Most family estate planning actions fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

Most individuals recognize the need to draft a will and specify beneficiaries. These are important parts of the estate planning process. However, one also needs to plan for the possibility of a time period in which he or she is still alive yet unable to make medical or financial decisions.

There is the possibility that one will become ill or injured to the extent that he or she is unable to make decisions. In many instances, the individual has specific wishes regarding the extent of medical care desired if there is no hope for recovery. Unless these wishes have been expressly stated, however, the family will be left to make such heart-wrenching decisions based upon their perception of what the individual would want. A living will allows the individual to expressly state his or her desires in a document that will be recognized by family, the courts and the individual's medical team.

In addition, if one is incapacitated, he or she will be unable to pay bills or take care of other financial matters. By establishing a durable power of attorney, one can make sure that financial affairs are attended. If there does come a time when the Michigan resident is incapacitated and unable to act on his or her own behalf, these additional estate planning documents will help the family know that actions taken are those that the individual desires.

Source: marketwatch.com, "This is the most important person to remember in your estate plan", Brad Wiewel, Nov. 17, 2017

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