Your documents are written with very specific direction for different stages of life and for after your death. For example, a Durable Power of Attorney can be drafted several ways. But its primary purpose is to give a trusted person access to step into your shoes, so to speak, if you are mentally or physically unable to handle your own affairs. Typically, your Durable Power of Attorney is powerless after death. Likewise, a Living Will and Health Care Surrogate form instruct physicians treating you while you are still alive. Your Last Will and Testament provides for how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Most Trusts have provisions that instruct the Trustee while you are alive, if you become incapacitated, and then at your death. If you have specific questions regarding when and how your estate planning documents are to be utilized, contact your attorney.
-Emily A. Helmick, Esq.