How do I modify the health care and power of attorney documents that are part of my estate plan?

Sitting down to update your estate plan is an important step that helps to ensure your needs are met and your wishes are carried out in the event that you become disabled, incapacitated, or pass away. For living trusts, this is typically accomplished by executing an amendment to the trust instrument. For wills, this is often accomplished by executing a codicil or creating a new will and revoking the old. For durable powers of attorney and advanced directives, the answer is to sign new documents.

Reasons to Execute New Powers of Attorney and Advanced Directives

Attempting to update advanced directives or powers of attorney by an amendment is not recommended. Instead, executing new, more current versions of the documents is the preferred method. Why? Following is an overview:

  1. If you are working with an amendment, the party inspecting the document for approval may question whether the two documents work together properly or whether there are additional amendments in existence. Other issues may also arise.
  2. The laws may have changed since you last executed your documents. Signing new documents ensures that they current and in compliance with California law.
  3. Some financial institutions may reject otherwise valid powers of attorney simply by virtue of their age. If the document is ten years old, for example, a bank may refuse to accept it. Clients should update their documents every few years in order to avoid running into this problem.

An important item to remember after you update your advanced directive is to make sure your give a copy to your local physician in Irvine or other city where you receive your primary medical care. It is important that your doctor has the most up to date version of this document.

Once you are ready to move forward with the updates to your estate planning documents, your next step should be to contact an experienced attorney. We are happy to help. The Law Office of James F. Roberts, APC is recognized on AVVO—we encourage you to check out our profile!