Estate Planning & Living Trusts

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16. Wills and incapacity

A will is no help if you become incapacitated -- because a will only goes into effect AFTER you die. Remember what happened to Groucho?

If you can't conduct business due to mental or physical incapacity (for example, from Alzheimer's disease, stroke or heart attack) only a court appointee can sign for you -- even if you have a will.

Having the court involved can be expensive and time consuming. In many cases, it’s a public process. And it doesn't replace probate when you die.

There is a document called a "durable power of attorney" that can allow someone to handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. However, some financial institutions won't accept ANY power of attorney. Others will only accept one if it is on their own form. The reason is that they do not want the liability that could result from handing over your assets to someone else.


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