The estate planning process is all about preparing for the future and shielding yourself and your family from uncertainty. One example of this is accident and injury. What if something happens one day that leaves you medically incapacitated, unable to make key legal or financial decisions for yourself? Through estate planning, you can prepare for just such a scenario.
In particular, a durable power of attorney, also called a financial power of attorney, helps you ensure your wishes are carried out and your responsibilities are met, even if you are unable to speak for yourself. Take just a moment to review what a financial power of attorney is, and what makes it such an important consideration in the estate planning process.
What is a Financial Power of Attorney?
We’ll begin with a basic definition. Through a durable power of attorney, you appoint someone else to manage your financial and business affairs on your behalf, effectively acting as your legal representative should you be unable to speak for yourself. This legal authority is granted in a document, and it’s useful not just for you but for your family members, who will be relieved to know that you’ve selected someone to handle all your financial affairs.
A key point about the financial power of attorney: It’s only invoked if you’re incapacitated in some way. If you’re able to address financial matters yourself, the power of attorney is not in effect.
What Can Your Legal Representative Do?
The power you invest in your legal representative allows this individual to carry out a number of important financial duties in your stead. Some examples include:
– Paying your bills
– Paying your taxes
– Paying your healthcare expenses
– Accessing your banking/financial accounts
– Managing your real estate assets
– Collecting retirement benefits on your behalf
– Making investments on your behalf
– Operating your small business
– Buying insurance for you
This is just a partial list but gives a good window into the kinds of transactions that can be taken care of via a durable power of attorney.
Creating a Durable Power of Attorney
We recommend that everyone consider a financial power of attorney for their estate plan. Even if you are young and healthy, there is simply no way to predict the future; accidents can happen to anyone and at any time, and you want to make sure you’re prepared for all contingencies.
Creating a financial power of attorney is generally quite easy. Most states have very simple forms where you can name the person you’d like to serve as your financial representative. A power of attorney lawyer can provide you with this form.
Additionally, most states will want you to have a witness sign off on the form, and you may also need to get it notarized. Again, your estate power attorney can assist you in the process and advise on any other steps that need to be taken.
One note that we should make is that a financial power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to be your representative in business matters, but not in healthcare decisions; for that, consider including an advance healthcare directive or living will as part of your estate plan.
Hiring a Power of Attorney Lawyer
As you prepare for the future, make sure you bring any questions or concerns to a qualified estate power attorney.
Singh Law Firm is an experienced estate planning group, proudly serving individuals and families throughout California. We are happy to assist in any of your estate planning needs. Reach out to us any time you’d like to speak with an attorney from our firm.