A hand holds a silver pen over a “POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE DECISIONS” document on a wooden surfaceEssential Financial And Medical Documents

As people age, facing the natural progression of memory decline or more severe conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia is something we all experience to one degree or another. Anticipating these potential challenges is vital when planning an estate in Virginia.

Establishing a power of attorney is a key step in ensuring that someone you trust has the authority to manage your financial affairs if you reach a point where you are no longer able to do so yourself. Not using power of attorney in your estate plan brings about the time-consuming and costly process of petitioning the court for guardianship and conservatorship of your assets.

Fortunately, creating a power of attorney is a straightforward process, eliminating the need for such legal proceedings. The peace of mind and financial efficiency it provides make it a critical document in estate planning. It is generally affordable, with most attorneys charging a nominal fee. I charge just $150 for it.

An advanced medical directive is another particularly important document, especially as individuals confront health conditions that may cripple their ability to make medical decisions on their own. This directive grants authority to a chosen individual to make medical decisions on your behalf once doctors confirm your incapacity. Additionally, it outlines your preferences in the event of catastrophic circumstances, such as a severe accident.

Tailoring the directive to your specific wishes ensures that, whether you choose to pursue all possible medical interventions or opt for a peaceful passing on, your desires are clearly communicated and carried out. Most people just want to be left alone to go peacefully, and an advanced medical directive empowers them to, providing clarity and guidance for loved ones during challenging times.

Continuously Evaluating Your Estate Planning

Estate planning is not at all a one-size-fits-all ordeal. As reiterated many times throughout this book so far, each individual’s circumstances are unique and demand a customized approach that aligns precisely with their goals and current stage in life. What works for one person may differ significantly from what another needs; one might find a will most relevant to their situation, while the other would benefit much more from a trust, for example. The diversity of options emphasizes the importance of tailoring the estate planning process to meet each individual’s needs, both for the lawyer and for you, the client, to meet with one to unpack all of the options available to you!

Life is marked by focal moments such as marriage, childbirth, or significant health challenges. Each of these should prompt you to reassess your existing estate planning documents. Getting married may necessitate adjustments to ensure considerations pertaining to now having a spouse are adequately addressed. The birth of a child, too, should prompt you to consider the need to possibly establish a guardianship and provide for the child’s future. With the chance of coming down with a serious illness or suffering a severe injury ever looming before all of us, you are wise to reevaluate the documentation you have in place to ensure that it remains aligned with your circumstances and actually serves your interests.

Maintaining an estate plan that serves your interests and helps you realize your wishes involves periodic reviews and updates to ensure what you have in place continues to align with your evolving circumstances while upholding your desires. While a specific timeline may vary based on individual factors, a general rule of thumb is to revisit and, if necessary, revise estate planning documents approximately every five years.

This periodic reassessment becomes especially vital if you do not have any major life events occur. Even in periods without significant changes, it is beneficial to take the time to review the details of wills, trusts, and other pertinent documents. This routine examination serves as a safeguard against unforeseen changes in relationships or personal dynamics that may impact the stipulations outlined in the documents.

Imagine the eldest son in a family who is slated to receive a portion of the estate as their inheritance, yet, over the course of the last five years, his and his parents’ relationship has taken a dramatic turn for the worse, causing intense estrangement so that they don’t even talk to one another anymore. A periodic review would serve as a mechanism to account for these changes should the parents wish to amend their will as a result.

For more information on Using Power Of Attorney In An Estate Plan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (703) 775-1678 today.


Attorney Mark Madigan is a careful and compassionate North Virginia attorney in Springfield who has decades of experience helping individuals and families craft wills, trusts, and estate plans. Always on the lookout for ways to demystify these essential legal tools, his work helps ordinary Virginians protect their legacies, assets, and families.

Connect with his law firm, Madigan and Scott Inc. to stay up to date on Virginia estate planning laws, risks, and practices so that you do not have to face this difficult time, nor these challenging decisions, alone and uninformed.

Call Us Now To Get Your Case Reviewed (703) 775-1678

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