Every estate plan includes unique terms and specific documents based on a testator’s priorities. An individual’s plan may include a variety of different documents based on their desires to support their loved ones or distribute their property a certain way, as well as their wishes for medical care and other support in the event of an emergency.
Many estate plans in South Dakota only contain testamentary documents. People put together wills discussing what will happen with their property after they die or trusts so that they can leave a very structured legacy. Fewer people take the time to plan for advanced age and the possibility of incapacity. Those who do think about the possibility of a medical emergency in the future typically choose to add special documents to their estate plans, including durable power of attorney paperwork.
Durable documents retain their authority until death
Power of attorney paperwork can play an important role in someone’s care if they experience some kind of personal emergency. The agent that they named in their paperwork can serve as their healthcare proxy, making decisions about their medical treatment. They may also have financial power of attorney paperwork that designates someone to manage their resources.
Basic powers of attorney would theoretically lose their legal power when the South Dakota courts declare someone permanently incapacitated. Durable power of attorney documents, however, retain their authority even if the person who drafted them no longer has the legal capacity to speak on their own behalf. Durable documents essentially allow someone to name an agent to act on their behalf for the rest of their life should they become permanently unable to manage their own affairs.
In other words, durable powers of attorney can effectively let someone choose the person who would act as their guardian instead of leaving someone at the mercy of whoever requests that authority from the courts. Particularly if someone has a large family or significant resources, taking the time to choose the person they want to provide them with support might give them peace of mind regardless of what the future holds.
Adding the right documents to an estate plan can help someone derive longer-lasting and broader protection from the paperwork they create. Seeking legal guidance can help individuals to clarify which kind of estate planning documents they may benefit from drafting.