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Have you created powers of attorney yet?

A comprehensive estate plan should include powers of attorney. You can set up powers of attorney for an individual -- your agent -- to make financial or health care decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated by injury or illness.

If you don't establish powers of attorney, then your family members, suddenly faced with an emergency, may have to seek conservatorship of you or your estate. Financial and health care matters can be addressed much more effectively by specifying the decision-making powers you want to give to your agents.

When you grant someone financial power of attorney, that person can make a variety of financial decisions on your behalf, including money transfers, property sales and bill payments. Attorneys at Landrum & Shouse LLP work with clients to specify exactly how much authority agents are given. It is important to limit the agent's powers and decide when they should take effect and for how long.

Kentucky law allows for a number of options for giving another person the right to make health care decisions on your behalf. One way to do this is with a health care directive, whereby a person is named as a health care surrogate. In the directive, you can also specify your wishes with regard to the kind of health care you want to receive, and the surrogate must honor your wishes.

Instead of creating a health care directive, some people choose to set up a health care power of attorney. The person to whom you give this power must also abide by your wishes regarding treatment.

Our estate planning website has more on the full range of legal documents needed for a comprehensive estate plan.

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