Estate planning helps you answer several of life’s most challenging questions. One of those questions: What happens to you when you become too sick to speak up, to voice your wishes, or to advocate for the healthcare that you require?
This may sound like a far-fetched scenario, but it happens more often than you think. Anything from a stroke to a car accident could befall you and put you in a state where you are medically incapacitated.
Estate planning offers some tools for addressing this problem, starting with the durable power of attorney. In this post, we’ll explain what a power of attorney is, why you need one, and how to proceed.
Putting the “Durable” in Power of Attorney
Let’s start with a semantic point: What distinguishes a durable power of attorney from other types of POA?
Basically, when we say that a power of attorney is durable, we mean that it remains in effect for so long as the individual is medically incapacitated. It’s not something that “expires” unless you reach a point where you can once again speak and make key decisions on your own behalf.
What Does a Power of Attorney Do?
With that question addressed, let’s get into the specifics of what a POA actually does.
Basically, when you include a POA in your estate plan, you’re assigning legal rights to a named individual, who is appointed to serve as your legal representative. If you are medically incapacitated (for instance, if you’re in a coma), the POA comes into effect. The person you’ve appointed is then able to be your legal representative, making decisions on your behalf.
A POA allows you to choose the person you wish to advocate for you, should you ever be unable to advocate for yourself.
Financial Power of Attorney vs. Medical Power of Attorney
As we discuss the durable power of attorney, there are two specific options to explore.
First, you can appoint someone to be your durable financial power of attorney. This person is appointed to be your representative in financial and legal matters. Some examples might include closing on a real estate business, selling your business, paying your bills, or filing your taxes.
A medical power of attorney, on the other hand, indicates someone who is tasked with making medical decisions on your behalf… for example, decisions about if and when to remove feeding tubes or assisted breathing machines.
It’s not unusual to have both a medical and financial POA as part of your estate plan.
POA: Where to Start
As you consider the inclusion of POA language in your estate plan, it’s best to work with a respected estate planning law firm. They can guide you through completing the documentation, and also help you select the right person (or people) to serve in this important capacity.
Make sure you choose a law firm that has a long track record of helping individuals and families prepare for the future, using all the estate planning tools at their disposal.
Connect with Singh Law Firm
If you’re interested in POA provisions in California, we welcome you to connect with Singh Law Firm.
Singh Law Firm has a long track record of providing estate planning expertise to those who need it. The firm takes a custom approach to each client, providing just the right estate planning strategies to address their needs and goals.
We invite you to connect with the Singh Law Firm team at your next convenience. Reach out today and ask to speak with someone about creating a POA as part of your estate plan.