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Powers of attorney important in an estate plan

Many people in Las Vegas want to make sure that their affairs are in order in case of a sudden emergency or unexpected incapacity. However, it may not always be clear what types of safeguards are necessary in order for people to achieve their goals. For example, many married couples own a substantial amount of property as joint owners, from bank accounts to investment funds to their family home. They may wonder if they also need to give each other power of attorney for financial matters in case of incapacity or if joint ownership is sufficient to handle the matter.

A power of attorney is one of the most important documents that people can include as part of their estate planning. Unlike wills and trusts, which often are designed to go into effect after the creator's death, these are designed to ensure that financial, health care and other decisions can be made when the creator is unable to do so himself or herself. A power of attorney can give a person the right to engage in financial transactions on behalf of another person, for example. Alternately, it could give a named person the right to make critical health care decisions about an incapacitated, unresponsive patient.

In most cases, a power of attorney is not necessary for the other spouse to access jointly held property, like a joint bank account or credit card. However, some types of accounts, like 401(k)s and IRAs, can only have one account holder. In these cases, a power of attorney is necessary to allow someone else to manage the account.

Powers of attorney are just one type of important document that people can use to protect themselves and their plans for the future. An estate planning attorney may offer advice and guidance on wills, trusts and other estate documents.

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