A power of attorney is one of the most valuable tools you can add to an estate plan. The basic principle involves transferring legal authority to a specific individual in a particular scenario in the event you cannot make decisions on your own. One such example is incapacitation.
The idea of incapacitation is so far removed from someone’s daily life that they cannot comprehend the value in planning for this possibility. However, there are clear benefits associated in establishing a power of attorney if this should occur:
Protecting your finances
Let’s say you have a mortgage. You have made monthly payments year after year and built up significant equity in your home. If you were to become incapacitated in a sudden auto accident, for example, your home could be in jeopardy if no one continues to make those monthly mortgage payments. Alternately, perhaps you own a business. If you became incapacitated, who will take over your responsibilities and run the company?
Establishing a financial power of attorney and designating a specific individual who will make such decisions will provide you and your family peace of mind.
Difficult health care decisions
A health care decision is an extremely personal matter. There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to deciding how to carry out an emergency situation. For instance, while one person may wish to be placed on life support in the event of a medical catastrophe, another may not.
By designating a specific individual to make medical decisions for you in the event you cannot, ensures that your wishes are carried out – not the wishes of your physician or family members.
Although incapacitation is not a universal experience for aging adults, it can potentially happen at any time to anyone. Discussing the issue with your family could be tough, as no one wants to think about such an event.
However, many of us would want our wishes carried out if there came a time we could not speak for ourselves – whether they involve our finances, our medical care or any other important aspect of our life.
For more information about powers of attorney and provisions that could benefit you and your specific situation, seek guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney.