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The importance of a will and power of attorney

Do you have a will? If you do, do you have someone appointed as your power of attorney? Both a will and a power of attorney are important in your estate plan, and they're something you should have at any age.

The two main documents that adults need are wills and durable power of attorney documents. A power of attorney document gives a particular person the right to make decisions for you when you're not able to. When you pass away, the power of attorney may or may not still be effective depending on what kind of power you give your POA in your legal documentation. Your attorney can help you make sure your POA only gets the power you want him or her to have. A durable power of attorney remains following your death, whereas other kinds may not.

Another document that you need is a will. You can have a will that only comes into play after death, or you can have a living will. With a living will, you detail out what kind of medical care you want to have if you are not able to express yourself. For example, you may include a do-not-resuscitate order. If you do not want to have a living will, the power of attorney would give an individual the right to make medical decisions for you.

Your normal will details how you want your estate to be split and helps take care of any final business you may have. If you are worried about your will being contested, make sure that you make it early enough in your life so that there's no question about your integrity or influences that may affect you later on. You should always update your will with each major life event, like marriages, divorces, births or deaths, so it's clear that your wishes are current.

Source: Journal Star, "Do you have a will, or a power of attorney?," Andy Kravetz, Oct. 21, 2016

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