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Durable Power of Attorney
Advanced Medical Directive
The Durable Power of Attorney
The durable power of attorney is an important estate planning
instrument. A power of attorney allows a person you appoint -- your
"attorney-in-fact" -- to act in your place for financial purposes
when and if you ever become incapacitated.
In that case, the person you choose will be able to step in and
take care of your financial affairs. Without a Durable power of
Attorney, no one can represent you unless a court appoints a
conservator or guardian. That court process takes time, costs money,
and the courts may or may not choose the person you would prefer. In
addition, under a guardianship or conservatorship, your
representative may have to seek court permission to take planning
steps that he/she could implement immediately under a simple durable
power of attorney.
A power of attorney may be limited or general. A limited power of
attorney may give someone the right to sign a deed to property on a
day when you are out of town. Or, it may allow someone to sign
checks for you. A general power is comprehensive and gives your
attorney-in-fact all the powers and rights that you have yourself.
A power of attorney may also be either current or "springing."
Most powers of attorney take effect immediately upon their
execution, even if the understanding is that they will not be used
until and unless the grantor becomes incapacitated. However, the
document can also be written so that it does not become effective
until such incapacity occurs. In such cases, it is very important
that the event or standard for determining incapacity and triggering
the power of attorney be clearly laid out in the document itself.
Most states require the court to respect your nomination "except
for good cause or disqualification."
For a sample Power of Attorney or more information, contact the
Office of Development by email at
call 334-394-2025. The Baptist Foundation prepares the Power
of Attorney document at no charge for any member of an Alabama
Southern Baptist Church.
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Your will is a legally-binding instrument directing who will
receive your property at your death. It also appoints a legal
representative to carry out your wishes. However, the will covers
only probate property. Many types of property or forms of ownership
pass outside of probate. Jointly-owned property, life insurance
proceeds, property in trust and property with a named beneficiary,
such as IRAs or 401(k) plans, all pass outside of probate.
Why have a will? Here are some reasons:
First, with a will you can direct where and to whom your estate
(what you own) will go after your death. If you died intestate
(without a will), your estate would be distributed according to
Alabama State law. Such distribution may or may not accord with your
Many people try to avoid probate and the need for a will by
holding all of their property jointly with their children. This can
work, but often people spend unnecessary effort trying to make sure
all the joint accounts remain equally distributed among their
children. However, these efforts can be defeated by a long-term
illness of the parent or the death of a child. A will can be a much
simpler means of effecting one's wishes about how assets should be
Second, only with a will can you choose the person to administer
your estate and distribute it according to your instructions. This
person is called your "executor" (or "executrix" if you appoint a
woman) or "personal representative," depending on your state's
statute. If you do not have a will naming him or her, the court will
make the choice for you.
The third reason to have a will is to make the administration of
your estate run smoothly. Often the probate process can be completed
more quickly and at less expense to your estate if there is a will.
And, with a clear expression of your wishes, there are unlikely to
be any costly, time-consuming disputes over who gets what.
Fourth, for larger estates, a well-planned will can help reduce
Fifth, and most important, through a will you can appoint who
will take your place as guardian of your minor children should both
you and their other parent both pass away.
Before approaching your legal counsel, write down as much
information ahead of time. This will help you make decisions about
what to put in your will. Bring it and any additional notes to your
lawyer and he or she will be able to efficiently prepare a will that
meets your needs and desires.
The Christian's Will
What is it that makes a will Christian? You should consider a
Christian preamble to your will as a final means of expressing your
life for the Lord and what He meant to you. You may have unsaved
relatives and because the will is a public document you may be a
witness even in death to others. For a sample Christian Preamble
to a will, contact Rodney Bledsoe at 334-394-2025or email
Types of Wills
Pour Over Will
Will Your Will Be Known?
For more information, contact the Office of Development by email
or call 334-394-2025.
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Advanced Medical Directive
Any complete estate plan should include a medical directive. This
term may encompass a number of different documents, including a
health care proxy, a durable power of attorney for health care, a
living will, and medical instructions.
Both a health care proxy and a durable power of attorney for
health care designate someone you choose to make health care
decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. A living will
instructs your health care provider to withdraw life support if you
are terminally ill or in a vegetative state. A broader medical
directive may include the terms of a living will, but will also
provide instructions if you are in a less severe state of health,
but are still unable to direct your health care yourself.
For a sample document or more information, contact the Office of
Development by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 334-394-2025. The Baptist
Foundation of Alabama will prepare your Advanced Directive for
Healthcare without charge.
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