A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you appoint someone to act on your behalf when you cannot act on your own due to things such as an accident, illness, or other incapacity. These documents can give you and your family peace of mind by ensuring that someone you implicitly trust will be looking out and making important decisions for you in these times of crisis. Depending on the state in which you live, this trusted individual may be called your agent or your attorney-in-fact.
The two main Power of Attorney types you may wish to consider adding to your overall estate plan are a Medical Power of Attorney and a Financial Power of Attorney.
Medical Power of Attorney
Medical Power of Attorneys can be referred to by various names in various states. Some of the most common names include:
- Advance Health Care Directive
- Advance Directive
- Medical Power of Attorney Directive
- Power of Attorney for Health Care
Whatever the precise name, this document gives your designated agent the authority to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make them yourself. These decisions can include any of the following:
- The types of medical treatment you receive. For example: surgery, prescription drugs, CPR in the event your heart stops, mechanical ventilation in the event your lungs stop working properly, etc.
- The hospitals or other facilities where you will receive care
- The doctors and other health care professionals who provide your care
- The place you will live if you require long-term care
- The types of people who provide for your everyday needs, such as eating, dressing, bathing, etc.
Financial Power of Attorney
Your Financial Power of Attorney likewise appoints an agent. In this case, it is to make financial decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself due to incapacity or an extended absence from home, such as for a military deployment or other long-term absence.
Again, you can make your agent’s duties as general or specific as you want. Common duties include:
- Paying your bills
- Handling your taxes
- Accessing your bank account to make deposits and withdrawals
- Keeping your business running
- Overseeing your investments, insurance policies and retirement accounts
- Managing your real estate properties, including your home
You can choose when your Powers of Attorney become effective. They can take effect immediately when you sign them or “spring” into effect only upon the occurrence of the event or situation you specify. If you make them durable, they remain in effect during any incapacity you may experience.
You can revoke your Power of Attorneys any time you choose. You can also change the person you designate as your attorney-in-fact in the event that he or she dies, becomes incapacitated himself or herself, or becomes unwilling to serve.
Bottom line, it’s always a good idea to have your Power of Attorneys in place before you actually need them.At AmeriEstate Legal Plan, Inc., we have helped over 40,000 families create the estate planning documents, including Power of Attorneys, needed to protect themselves, their families and their assets. We’d like to help you, too. Contact us today.