Why is a Power of Attorney necessary in Wisconsin?

power of attorney document for parent to sign for a child

A power of attorney is one of the most important parts of estate planning—and one that many Wisconsinites overlook. Many people believe that a will, the most popular estate planning document, is the sole document needed and addresses every situation. The reality is that a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney are two important estate planning documents that make a difficult time easier for a family.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney in Wisconsin?

A Durable Power of Attorney designates a party to act for another person. The Durable Power of Attorney specifies when the designation comes into effect, such as immediately or when the person is incapacitated. The designee may make financial decisions (i.e. pay bills, purchase or sell real estate, etc.), give out gifts, apply for benefits, modify investment and retirement plans, and perform other actions on behalf of another. Because the Durable Power of Attorney gives the designee significant powers, anyone considering the designation should carefully consider who to designate. In some cases, the right designee may be an organization.

What can a Health Care Power of Attorney do?

A Health Care Power of Attorney is another designation that relates specifically to health care decisions. The designee can make decision about the health of another party, especially when a person is incapacitated or incompetent. This estate planning document is also the location where a party can spell out their wishes for health care for the designee. This designation can name the same party who acts as the executor of the will or receives the Durable Power or Attorney designation, or can be a completely different party.

Why is a Power of Attorney important?

A Power of Attorney is invaluable during times when a person is incapacitated or unable to make decisions. If a Durable Power of Attorney is not named in Wisconsin, the family may need to go to court and get a guardian appointed. The process can be expensive and cumbersome during an already difficult period.

The Power of Attorney process can be done independently or as part of the estate planning process with an experienced lawyer. The document should be notarized and can be drafted with broad powers over a person’s affairs or with specific instructions about what powers and when the document goes into effect.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

How do I get a Power of Attorney done?

Girl, her mother and grandmother sitting by table and looking at cameraA properly executed Power of Attorney can feel invaluable during difficult times, both for the party and their family. A durable Power of Attorney can make difficult decisions easier and make the path through those times feel smooth. If you’re in the dark about where to start with a Power of Attorney, though, the path to getting a Power of Attorney done can seem anything but smooth.

The smoothest way to find out how to get a durable Power of Attorney done is to visit a local experienced lawyer. Because every family and situation are unique, a lawyer can offer advice customized to your specific situation. Before you reach out, however, it’s helpful to learn the basics of a Power of Attorney you can use as you work through the process.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney authorizes another party (or parties) to make decision on behalf of another person. That person can be related or non-related. There are two types of Power of Attorney that can be drafted and executed. A Power of Attorney can be executed at any time, as long as the person understands the documents they are signing.

What Power of Attorney is applicable to legal and financial matters?

When a person cannot make legal and financial decisions, the Power of Attorney for Finance and Property designates another person for those decisions. This document is not a one-size-fits-all, but rather can be customized as broad or as narrowly as the person wishes.

What Power of Attorney is applicable to health care decisions?

This Power of Attorney document, appropriately named the Declaration to Physicians, states any preferences the party may have regarding treatment or any life-saving measures they would like taken (or not taken) in the event of a medical emergency. The Power of Attorney designates a party to make decisions in those situations.  A Declaration to Physician document is useful in situations where the party is in a deteriorating mental state, permanent vegetative state, unconscious, or in a coma.

How can I get a Power of Attorney executed?

The path to a properly executed Power of Attorney starts with scheduling an appointment with a lawyer. Though a lawyer is not required for the process, an experienced lawyer can assist with drafting and executing concise and thorough legal documents specific to the situation.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.