March 2015 WLG Newsletter


Dear Friends,

A seasonal change can be a motivating force, whether it is gearing up for a long winter or spring cleaning to welcome in the warmer weather.A transition can be a busy and exciting time as we get ourselves in order for the season ahead. It can also be a time for reflection on what has happened since the last season. A lot may have changed: new family members, retirement, providing more help to an aging parent, health, financial picture. You should make sure that your estate planning documents still express your wishes even though there have been changes in your life since you signed them.As you may have heard us say before, we look at estate planning as a process, and not a one-time event. We can help you plan through some of life’s transitions.

One critical aspect of your estate plan to look at is how you have planned for your incapacity. You must take steps to authorize someone to act for you or risk a court-appointed guardianship. This newsletter will highlight some of the documents that are useful for incapacity planning.

Planning for Incapacity

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a document in which a Principal names an Agent to act on that Principal’s behalf in certain matters. The scope of the Agent’s authority to act is written in the document, and it could give the Agent very broad powers to do virtually anything the Principal could do in his/her own name, such as to make deposits to and withdrawals from the Principal’s bank account. The document could give these powers to the Agent immediately, or upon the incapacity of the Principal. A “springing” power of attorney gives the Agent power to act only upon the determination of incapacity of the Principal.

An Agent under a Power of Attorney is considered a fiduciary and therefore owes the Principal certain duties, such as to act in good faith on the Principal’s behalf.


Health Care Power of Attorney

In a Health Care Power of Attorney, you can name someone as your Health Care Agent to make medical decisions on your behalf when you cannot. You may also be able to name successor agents if your primary choice cannot serve. This document may also include provisions in which you authorize your Health Care Agent to do such things as arrange for hospice care or discontinue life-sustaining treatment if you are near death and are lacking the capacity to make your own health care decisions. This document is not just about end-of-life decisions, however, since you may have a temporary incapacity in which your Agent needs to act on your behalf.


Revocable Trust

A revocable living trust may contain provisions as to how your affairs are to be managed in the case of your incapacity. It may also provide a definition for incapacity and how that is determined.

You can learn more about incapacity planning at our upcoming workshop on March 31, 2015 at 3:00 pm at the Ward Legal Group office. RSVP to (603) 352-7310.

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Hiring an attorney is an important decision which should not be based solely on advertising. The information you obtain from this newsletter is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.


Ward Legal Group PC is an estate planning and elder law firm serving all of New Hampshire and Vermont, including Keene and the nearby areas of Peterborough, Walpole, Brattleboro, Wilmington and Bellows Falls.

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