Estate Plan Essentials Part 2: Financial Powers of Attorney

This second in our three part series focuses on the financial portions of your Estate Plan, listing the documents that give your trustees and agents the financial powers they need to manage your finances in your absence. Generally, once you decide who will manage your money when you can’t, and who will get what when you die, you next want to know how all that is going to be accomplished.

First and foremost, you have named Trustees; these are the people who will be administering your trust property exactly as you have designed.  Executors are the people who are named in your will, although the trustee of your trust and the executor of your will are often the same person, it can actually be different people.

And how is it that your trustees are able to deal with your financial institutions?  How does the bank know to give that person access to your accounts?  You give your Trustees this power in your Durable Power of Attorney. The Power of Attorney is a document which gives the people named therein as agents all of the permissions and powers they need to interact with financial institutions on your behalf.  This is usually a long laundry list of powers, which go into effect immediately or when you have been declared incapacitated.

In addition to the Durable Power of Attorney, you will also nominate a Conservator. This nomination does not expressly give your agent any powers, but it does tell a judge in no uncertain terms who you would like to make decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make your own financial decisions. Rather than expressly giving powers, the Nomination of Conservator is an easy document that significantly shortens a potentially long and grueling court procedure should you ever need a conservator of your estate.

Come back Friday to read the final post in our series, in which we address the important healthcare portion of your Estate Plan; the Advanced Health Care Directive, HIPAA Authorization, and your disability panel.