Your decisions, our expertise
While a Trust is advantageous for the management of assets if you become incapable of managing your own financial affairs, potentially avoiding the need for a court proceeding to appoint a Guardian of your property, another alternative is the durable Power of Attorney. This document appoints an agent who is empowered to handle the financial management of your assets. The general, durable Power of Attorney is a very powerful document giving your agent broad financial authority over all of your assets. It should only be given to a person, or persons, whom you trust absolutely. (Note: Unlike the Power of Attorney which relies on the appointed agent to act as he or she believes you would act, if your assets are held in a Trust then the Trustee manages your assets in accordance with your specific directions in the Trust Agreement.) Even where a Trust is used, a Power of Attorney is still recommended to address any assets that may be outside of the Trust, or acquired after the Trust was created and need to be managed during your lifetime.
There are two related health care documents which should be considered when planning for the future. One is known as a Living Will and is your statement that if you suffer from a terminal or incurable condition you should not be kept alive by artificial means or heroic measures.
The other complementary document is known as a Health Care Proxy. This is a Power of Attorney for health care decisions. You appoint an agent, or agents (spouse, child, friend, etc.) who will make treatment decisions for you in the event that you lose capacity to make them yourself, or you are unconscious and cannot make them. It is activated whenever you cannot communicate for yourself. In that event, the person you selected and appointed will give directions to the medical community and be able to make general treatment decisions.