For many of us, the thought of our own death or incapacity is uncomfortable to consider. Fear of the unknown and uncertainty of things to come can be frightening and difficult to think about. However, planning now, while there is no immediate need, is often the best course of action. It’s important to have detailed written plans in place to protect your loved ones from potential complications and possible court intervention in the future.
There are numerous legal documents available to accommodate countless situations and can be customized to your specific estate plan needs. The following three documents are considered to be among the most important and powerful tools to carry out your wishes:
· Power of Attorney (POA) – This written document provides authority to another individual or entity named by the signer to perform certain acts. This can be a “full” POA or “limited” POA for a specific purpose. This document often comes into action when you are unable to manage your affairs or in the event of incapacity. This authorization becomes void on the death of the signer.
· Living Will – This detailed healthcare directive is a crucial document for you to list your wishes regarding several medical procedures and life-sustaining treatments such as resuscitations, breathing assistance, feeding tubes, and other matters of this nature. This essential tool can relieve your loved ones of difficult decisions when you are ill and assures your specific choices are enforced.
· Last Will and Testament – When signed, witnessed and notarized, this document gives legal instruction of the wishes of an individual, called the testator, with respect to disposal of his or her property and assets upon death.
Should something happen to you in the absence of these documents, an unnecessary burden could be placed on family members and loved ones and, in some cases, court rulings could be needed. Pay special attention to the individuals or entities you name in these powerful capacities. Always be sure to name a successor or backup in the event that your first named for a given capacity is unable or unwilling to serve.
Planning and execution of these documents is best completed when there is no immediate need to do so. Estate planning also requires ongoing monitoring and updates as circumstances often change. Being proactive is the only way to assure peace of mind now that your wishes will be in place and honored for the future. Procrastination may take away your opportunity to plan for your family’s best interest.
We, at ACNB Bank, always recommend seeking the advice of your attorney and/or trusted financial professional in these matters. Like other financial institutions with trust powers, ACNB Bank often serves as executor, trustee and/or financial power of attorney for individuals in our community and maintains the specialized skills necessary to act as a fiduciary for our clients.