What to Know About Arizona Wills and Well being Care Authority
A serious medical problem can arise suddenly and relatives can make end-of-life care decisions.
Although illness can occur at any age, according to a 2019 study by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, only 18% of those 55 and older have a living will, health care attorney, and last will and will.
Lawyers encourage every adult to have these types of documents, including young professionals, singles, and those without children.
According to Laura Trujillo, a Scottsdale-based attorney, these documents make life easier for a person and their loved ones during an emotional and difficult time.
“First, it makes your wishes clear,” said Trujillo. Second, it helps to give directions to family members and appoint people who you believe will be most responsible and able to fulfill your wants and needs.
What is a will and a power of attorney?
A power of attorney, a living will, and a will each have their own purposes.
A health care power of attorney allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to work or unable to work while you are still alive. The power of the person ends when you die. In Arizona, the person who is given this authority is called an “agent.”
When people lack the authority or the will to live in healthcare, when they cannot make their own decisions, a doctor can turn to others, which can take additional time or introduce other complications.
- If the person is married, their spouse may be asked to make the decision.
- An adult child can make the decision for their parents, or the medical team can get the consent of the majority of the available children.
- Parents can make the decision for their child.
- A sibling can make the decision.
- Or someone else.
There are other types of power of attorney, including one for finance. These allow another person to pay bills or make other financial decisions on your behalf when you are unable to.
A living will is used when a person has an incurable disease, is in a coma, or is unable to work and needs end-of-life care. This document is known as an advance policy in other parts of the country.
Attorney Robert Sewell said he could give instructions on how the person would be treated, such as: B. no feeding tube or as much medical help as possible.
“This one is incredibly, incredibly important,” said Sewell. “Not only that, but you should talk to your kids or whoever your loved ones about it.”
A last will and will directs what happens to a person’s estate or property after they die. It can split all possessions in the person’s name, including personal property and money.
A will can also designate legal guardians for minor children.
When making a will, Trujillo encourages parents to think about who would take care of their children if something happened to them. She said parents should state who that person would be in order to prevent custody issues if something happens.
A will can state who will be responsible for the person’s estate. In Arizona this person is called a “personal representative”.
The study identified the top two reasons people wanted to leave an inheritance because “it’s the right thing” and “to cover my funeral and end-of-life expenses”.
Do I need these documents?
Lawyers advise people to speak to those they intend to appoint for these roles to make sure they are comfortable.
Trujillo recommends having a primary representative and two alternates to perform the desired roles. This is helpful when a person forgets to update the documents for years or when the situation changes.
It is important to make copies of the documents available to the people selected for the roles.
According to the Merrill Lynch study, 43% of respondents said the benefits of these documents are “relieving my loved ones.”
If a person is in a coma and no one is able to make financial decisions, it is necessary to apply to the court for the appointment of a guardian or restorer.
According to Trujillo, state law includes a list of people who would have priority to take on the role.
What if I don’t have a living will?
If an asset is in the name of the deceased only and the person does not have a will, they can go to probate.
“When you have no will, there is really a lot of friction,” said Trujillo.
In Arizona, probate courts handle proceedings that address issues of the validity of wills, additions to estates, guardians, and conservatories.
In drafting any of the three documents, Sewell said people should view those they trust as controls.
“When the court is involved, you have no control at all,” he said.
The Arizona Attorney General provides life care planning resources on their website. The public can download basic forms to indicate their health care authority.
If you are looking for a lawyer to help you with any of the documents, the State Bar of Arizona has an online lawyer directory that the public can search for areas of activity.
The Maricopa County and Pima County Bar Associations can schedule 30-minute consultations with an attorney through their attorney referral service for a fee.
- Referral Service for Maricopa County Lawyers: 602-257-4434.
- Referral service for Pima County Lawyers: 520-623-4625.
The Maricopa County Bar Association, State Bar of Arizona, and Community Legal Services’ Volunteer Lawyers Program provide free legal advice to eligible low-income residents for probate concerns.
Do you have any thoughts on the Arizona legal system? Reach criminal justice reporter Lauren Castle at L[email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @Lauren_Castle.
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