Why Have an Estate Plan?

Many people are not comfortable thinking about death, what will happen to our family without us, or how to minimize tax and protect our property after we are gone. Too often, people put off the steps necessary to have a will prepared and create an estate plan. Planning is the key to comfort and peace of mind. We at Grathwol Law can help you overcome barriers to this process.

Most everyone needs a will, regardless of the size of the estate. It will assure that you distribute your hard-earned assets as you desire, reduce taxes, provide for your loved ones, and potentially remember charities that reflect your values and interests. And most importantly, you pick the person (the executor) in charge of the estate. We will work with you personally to determine your goals for your estate, draft the plan, and then lead you through the signing to make a valid will and/or trust. Taking these simple steps will not only bring you peace of mind, but also a great deal of personal satisfaction knowing your affairs are in order.

What are Advanced Directives?

Everyone needs advanced directives, whether you are disabled or not. These documents help you set up your trusted person to handle your assets and your health when you cannot. One day you may need them. Most of us do.

  • Power of Attorney (POA) – A power of attorney document grants power over your property by appointing a person to act for you regarding your financial affairs. This person is the Attorney-in-Fact. The power can be granted upon signing, it can last through your incapacity (durable), or become effective when a physician states you no longer can manage your financial affairs (springing).
  • Health Care Directive (HCD) – A health care directive document grants power over your physical well-being by appointing an agent to make your health care decisions for you when you are not able to make these decisions. Everyone needs this document after they turn 18. Most notable, is a parent who does not have authority to help with health care decisions after a child turns 18. Think of your current 18-year-old headed off to college or trade school.

Other Advanced Directives and Orders

  • Do Not Resuscitate (“DNR”) — A DNR is a very limited directive to the medical professional that strictly deals with a specific health care emergency.  In the event your heart stops or you stop breathing, you direct that you do not wish to have a medical team perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (“CPR”). There are many other medical events that need a person appointed to make decisions for you. That is when you need a health care directive.
  • Provider Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments (“POLST”) – A POLST is a portable medical order signed by your doctor that clearly identifies your choices surrounding CPR and other life-sustaining measures. It is used primarily for seriously ill or fragile individuals.