Most people think of estate planning as creating a will and trust. In other words, declaring how assets like who will receive your home, investments and other valuables when you pass away.
Your estate plan should include these things, of course. But it does not have to end there. A comprehensive, well-crafted estate plan also should include two things that could help you during your lifetime: an advance healthcare directive and power of attorney designation.
Advance healthcare directives vs. powers of attorney — what are they?
Both of these tools give you the power to choose who will speak on your behalf if an accident or illness leaves you mentally incapacitated or unable to communicate. An advance healthcare directive allows you to designate someone you trust, such as your spouse or child, to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. It also contains your preferences for end-of-life decisions. For example, you can state when or if you want CPR or other resuscitation methods used on you, and if you wish to be kept alive using a ventilator or other life-support machines. The person you designate as your representative will use the directive as guidance to ensure that you do not get any care that you do not want.
Meanwhile, a power of attorney designates someone to step in for you to handle your financial matters if necessary. This job can include things like gaining access to your bank accounts to make sure your bills get paid and arranging for repairs to your house when needed. If you have extensive investments, the person with power of attorney will receive information about how they are performing and act according to your best interests.
Maximize the value of your estate plan for yourself
These important tools can help assure you that you will remain in control of your health and in good shape financially, no matter what happens. To make sure your advance healthcare directive and power of attorney are done according to Maryland law, speak to an estate planning attorney in your area.