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Do you have a large estate or an interest in more advanced estate planning tools like trusts?

If your estate equals or exceeds a value of $1 million, or needs special estate planning tools like trusts, it may be best to talk with an attorney.
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Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
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  • Establishing and maintaining trusts
  • …and any other concerns you have!
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Are you looking to have your estate planning basics covered?

Our Estate Planning Package includes a Last Will & Testament, Health Care Directive & Living Will, and Financial Power of Attorney to cover all of your basic estate planning needs.
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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have minor children?

If you have minor children, you will want to name a guardian for them.
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Do you have pets?

If you have a pet or pets, you will want to name someone to care for them.
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Do you want to leave gifts to people or a charity?

If you want to give items or money to people or charities, you will want to make what are known as “specific gifts.”
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Do you own a business?

If you own a business or a share of a business, you will want to plan for succession of ownership.
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Do you want to decide how your property is distributed when you pass away?

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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you want to specify someone who can make financial decisions for you if you are unavailable or incapacitated?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Understood! Last question…

Do you want to specify someone who can make financial decisions for you if you are unavailable or incapacitated?

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Good to know! How about this next one?

Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Thank you for taking our quiz!
Your answers suggest you might benefit from:

Speaking with
a FindLaw Attorney

Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
What’s included:
  • Being part of a blended family
  • Caring for children with special needs
  • Establishing and maintaining trusts
  • …and any other concerns you have!
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Estate Planning Package

For One Person

$135
What’s included:
  • Last will and testament
  • Health care directive & living will
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • A comprehensive plan — for less
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament

For One Person

$79
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Estate Planning Package

For Two People

$255
What’s included:
  • Two wills, health care directives & living wills, and financial powers of attorney
  • Two free HIPAA release forms
  • You and your loved one create your own estate plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Attorney-approved documents customized to your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament

For Two People

$149
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$156
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase

Who Needs a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a versatile legal document that gives someone the legal authority to act on behalf of another in time of need. That need could be temporary or life-long. The need could be financial, medical, or something else.

Table of Contents

“Who needs a power of attorney?” Let’s look at the types of decisions an agent has the authority to make on behalf of the principal. (A “principal” is the person who drafts the POA. An “agent” is the person to whom they give authority.)

Authority to Make Decisions When a Person Is Out of the Country

American citizens who travel, live, or work outside the U.S. may want a general power of attorney to give someone in the U.S. the authority to act on their behalf. This group includes:

  • Members of the military
  • Military families stationed overseas
  • Expatriates
  • Business people who travel for work
  • Any traveler who is concerned that a financial decision may need to be made in their absence

With a general power of attorney, an agent can make any decision they are legally allowed to make. That could include how to get a traveler home if they became incapacitated while overseas.

For people who live overseas, a U.S.-based agent often handles financial matters. They may have a financial power of attorney rather than a general power of attorney. Either document would allow them to handle financial matters such as:

  • Choosing financial institutions
  • Opening and closing bank accounts, making deposits and withdrawals
  • Investing money
  • Paying taxes

An agent — also called an attorney-in-fact — might even be able to sue on behalf of the principal if the power of attorney allows it.

Authority to Make Decisions in Situations of Mental or Physical Incapacity

medical power of attorney allows someone to make medical decisions in case of mental or physical incapacity. This would be particularly important for:

  • Parents of older teens with mental impairments. When the teen reaches the age of majority, no one will have the authority to make decisions for them if they cannot.
  • Persons with ongoing mental health challenges who sometimes or often need assistance
  • Elders who are in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s

A power of attorney can bring great peace of mind to family members worried about the future needs of a loved one.

A medical power of attorney allows the named agent to make healthcare decisions. Those decisions may be guided by instructions in a living will or healthcare directive.

If the power of attorney document specifically states it, the agent can transfer property from a disabled spouse to a healthy spouse. This protects Medicaid eligibility for the disabled spouse and the quality of life for the healthy spouse.

If a loved one is suffering from a life-long impairment, a durable POA gives an agent authority to act for the lifetime of the principal. If the principal may outlive the agent — as may be the case with parents of a disabled teen — successor agents should be named.

Some people prefer a springing power of attorney document. This type of POA authorizes decision-making power when certain conditions are met. For example, the person drafting the POA may state that it becomes effective if they are declared mentally incompetent.

A springing power of attorney may create time delays because someone will have to determine mental capacity.

Failing to have a power of attorney in place prior to incapacitation could result in a guardianship or conservatorship suit being brought to probate court.

Authority to Conduct Business on Someone’s Behalf

A durable power of attorney would allow someone to consistently act as a fiduciary on the business owner’s behalf. A limited power of attorney gives an agent authority for specific transactions.

An agent can:

  • Buy or sell real estate
  • Sign a business contract
  • Collect on debts

If an agent will be completing real estate transactions, the document must state that the agent has this authority.

When Planning for Potential Future Needs

People with dangerous jobs or risky hobbies could foresee the possibility of catastrophic injury. Ensuring someone can make financial decisions or medical treatment decisions is a reasonable precaution.

But you don’t have to be a risk-taker to need a “backup” person in times of crisis. Anyone could be incapacitated by a car accident or a serious illness.

A spouse is that backup person for their husband or wife. They have the legal authority to make decisions on all matters. A power of attorney document gives single people that trusted backup person to make decisions for them.

The drafter of the POA can decide whether they want to give someone authority over financial affairs or medical care.

A power of attorney can always be revoked as long as the principal is of sound mind. Depending on your state’s laws, revocation can be as simple as the destruction of the POA document, or you can draft a new POA.

Considering a Power of Attorney? Get Legal Advice

It’s not strictly necessary for a person to hire a lawyer to draft a power of attorney. A simple, cost-effective power of attorney can be created using FindLaw’s Estate Planning Forms.

But you may feel more comfortable talking with an elder law or estate planning attorney about specific legal requirements under your state’s laws.

Estate planning solutions to fit your needs.

Written by:

FindLaw Staff

Contributing Author

Ally_Marshall_image

Reviewed by:

Ally Marshall, Esq.

Managing Editor