It’s the job of your estate planning lawyer to help you plan for the future, protecting your interests and the interests of your family against all contingencies. As such, one of the key aspects of estate planning is ensuring your wishes are carried out even if you find yourself incapacitated, and unable to speak for yourself. One resource for doing so is the financial power of attorney.
When we talk about powers of attorney (or durable power of attorney, as it’s sometimes called), we’re basically talking about legal documents that help you to outline your wishes for the event that you become medically incapacitated in some way, unable to speak or to voice decisions for yourself.
There are two primary kinds of power of attorney, medical and financial; for today, we’re focusing on the latter. Basically, a financial power of attorney allows you to name someone to whom you grant legal authority to make financial and business decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to make them on your own.
For example, what happens if you have an accident or injury that places you into a coma? If you have a financial power of attorney in place, then the person you appoint as your legal representative will be able to buy and sell businesses, complete real estate transactions, pay taxes, and handle other financial matters on your behalf.
This is an important way to ensure that your financial and business affairs don’t fall through the cracks, even in the event of a true medical catastrophe.
You might wonder if this is really the kind of document you need included in your estate plan.
Generally speaking, we’re wary of making blanket statements about estate planning. All of our clients are different, and they face varied estate planning needs and priorities.
With that said, it’s important to remember that unexpected accidents, injuries, and illnesses can befall any of us; even if you are young and in robust health, there’s no guarantee you won’t get hit by a bus tomorrow. As such, clarifying your wishes and appointing legal representatives is definitely something that everyone should think about.
Another common question: Is it necessary to work with a financial attorney to help draft these key legal documents? Or, can it be handled on a DIY basis?
While it is certainly permissible to draft these documents on your own, there are a number of benefits to working with a lawyer. An attorney will be able to ensure you’re filling out the right forms and naming the right person as your legal representative. An attorney can help you keep your documents up to date. And, an attorney can help you align your financial power of attorney with your broader estate planning goals.
If you have any additional questions, or if you’re ready to start drafting a financial power of attorney, we invite you to contact our firm today. We’d love to advise you.
Singh Law Firm is a trusted estate planning counselor here in California, and our attorneys have ample experience with powers of attorney. Connect with us whenever you’re ready to chat about your estate planning needs and goals.