Estate planning is all about preparing for the future. That means making sure your physical assets are passed down according to your wishes, and that your heirs are well taken care of. That’s not all it means, though; indeed, another key component of estate planning is ensuring that your wishes are met even if you become medically incapacitated in some sense.
This isn’t something any of us like to think about, but it’s a very real risk. Accident, illness, or simply the effects of aging could leave you unable to speak or make decisions for yourself. In these scenarios, a durable power of attorney can be invaluable.
You can’t totally mitigate the risk of accident or illness, and you certainly can’t stop the aging process, but you can make life a little smoother for you and your family members, even if that worst-case-scenario unfolds. A power of attorney allows you to do exactly that.
Basically, a power of attorney is a legal document that allows another person to speak in your place, acting as your legal representative, should you be unable to speak for yourself. Note that a power of attorney only goes into effect if you are incapacitated in some way; if you’re still able to make your own decisions, the power of attorney is not binding.
There are two kinds of durable power of attorney… a financial power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney.
A financial power of attorney appoints another person to be your legal representative in all manner of financial transactions. Some examples might be paying your taxes, taking care of unpaid bills, completing a real estate sale, even buying or selling a business. Again, your appointed representative only has legal standing if you are incapacitated, in a coma, etc.
The other kind of power of attorney is the medical power of attorney. This document gives legal authority to an appointed representative, allowing this person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. For example, this person can make the decision about whether to administer or discontinue life support systems.
As you craft your medical power of attorney, working closely with a power of attorney lawyer, it’s also recommended that you draft a document that outlines your wishes on these matters; give your chosen representative a clear sense of what you want, what your personal feelings are about life support, etc.
Clearly, a power of attorney can be an important tool for making your wishes known and for giving yourself a “voice” even when you can no longer speak for yourself. It ensures that important decisions are made by someone you know and trust, ideally someone to whom you have made your desires clear.
A durable power of attorney also benefits the entire family. Rather than facing tough questions about your real intentions, your heirs can rest assured that they are acting in compliance with your stated legal preferences. This can be an enormous source of comfort and peace of mind.
If you have further questions, or are ready to draft your own durable power of attorney, we invite you to speak directly with an estate power attorney.
Singh Law Firm will help you create an estate plan that gives a sense of peace to you and your family members and provides total clarity about your ultimate wishes. To speak with an estate power attorney from our firm, reach out to the Singh team today.