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When a person in Kansas City decides to create an estate plan, he or she may think that all he or she needs is a will or trust. However, estate planning encompasses more than just what happens to one’s property after death.

Take care planning, for example. An estate plan can include directions for what health care decisions to make if one becomes incapacitated before death. This is done through the execution of a medical power of attorney.

A medical power of attorney allows another person, called an agent or attorney-in-fact, to make health care decisions, should one become unable to do so on their own. For example, this can include consent to — or refusal of — medical treatments.

A medical power of attorney can take effect, even if the condition that has incapacitated a person, such as dementia or a coma is not fatal. A living will, in contrast, only takes effect if a person’s medical condition is fatal.

In the end, a well-rounded estate plan often includes both a living will and a medical power of attorney, along with a will or trust (or both). Deciding what documents to include in one’s estate plan is important, but the differences between the various options one can consider can be confusing. Therefore, it is important to seek legal advice before executing any estate planning documents.

An attorney can explain the various choices one has when estate planning and can help ensure the documents are drafted with the proper formalities. For example, the professionals at Stockton & Stern, LLC, have assisted clients throughout the Kansas City area with their estate planning needs. They understand that a proper estate plan can benefit both the creator of the estate plan and his or her loved ones.

Estate planning is important. Those who have decided to take the leap into estate planning may want to ensure they do so with the right help, so their documents are valid and legally sound.