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Why a power of attorney completes your estate plan

Is your Michigan estate plan really complete? Many of our clients think that all they need is a will, and their estate planning is squared away. The truth is that estate planning can be a little -- or a lot -- more complicated than just a will, depending on your assets. One of the most important elements of a solid estate plan: a written power of attorney.

You are not alone if you do not know exactly what a power of attorney is. This document gives one person the legal authority to act as the person who issues it. Say that you are incapacitated, for instance, and someone must make medical decisions for you. If you created a power of attorney for your spouse or child in these situations, that person could make decisions in your place. The same goes for financial decisions. In the event that you are unable to make your own decisions, the person with the power of attorney has the ability to sign contracts and perform other critical financial tasks.

Choosing a fiduciary, or the person who is permitted to make these financial decisions in your stead, is not always an easy decision. You want to make sure that the person you select has a good head on his or her shoulders; they should be dedicated to serving your best interests, managing the money carefully and keeping reliable records. Fiduciaries are charged with protecting their loved ones from fraud and financial exploitation. Elderly or incapacitated relatives make easy targets for unscrupulous caregivers and others who would attempt to drain their savings, for instance.

Ultimately, having a power of attorney associated with your estate plan makes your documentation more complete because it considers the possibility of you becoming incapacitated -- not just your death. Smart management of your assets extends throughout your life, which is why a power of attorney is a good idea. Do not wait; add this important document to your estate planning package for better peace of mind.

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