Powers of Attorney

Who Will You Trust with Life’s Biggest Decisions in the Event of Disability or Incapacity?

When performing estate planning activities, many people do a great job at deciding what to do after their death, and even save well for their retirement. In the event that they become severely disabled or incapacitated, however, they oftentimes fail to identify who they want to make decisions on their behalf. The best tools for this are known as Powers of Attorney and they come in two main types. You can set up a Health Care Power of Attorney to identify who will make medical decisions for you should it become necessary, and a Durable Power of Attorney to make legal and financial decisions.

Our legal team will work with you to set up these Powers of Attorney so that should something happen to you, a trusted loved one will be able to step in and put your best interests first.

Understanding Health Care Powers of Attorney

A Health Care Power of Attorney, which is also called an advance directive, allows you to accomplish two main things. First, you can use this tool to choose the individual or individuals who you want to have the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are ever unable to do so.

Secondly, a Health Care Power of Attorney will allow you to make certain medical decisions for yourself ahead of time. For example, you can explain in detail what is to be done regarding life-sustaining treatment. This aspect of your planning is known as a Living Will. If you have specific desires regarding surgical procedures, palliative care, pain management or organ donation, a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will are the perfect tools to express your wishes.

Due to the fact that this document is going to reflect your very personal wishes, concerns, and values, it is not a good idea to use templates or other standard forms. Instead, creating a personalized Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will that are as unique as you are will help avoid any problems in the future. To have yours created or updated, please contact us to make an appointment.

Understanding Durable Powers of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you give another person the authority to act on your behalf with regard to financial and personal business matters. The designated individual is referred to as the ‘agent’ or ‘attorney-in-fact,’ and will have the legal authority to act and sign documents on your behalf.

A Durable Power of Attorney becomes effective immediately upon signing and remains in effect for your entire lifetime or until the point that you cancel the document. With this in mind, it is essential that you appoint someone who you trust.

If you should become incapacitated and don’t have a Durable Power of Attorney in place, a court-supervised guardianship may become necessary. Of course, most people would rather have someone they trust handling their affairs rather than a court-appointed stranger.

In most cases a Durable Power of Attorney will not be used until you are much older, but everyone who is 18 and over should have one in place just to be safe.

A Durable Power of Attorney can be a very simple and affordable document to add to your estate plan. To have yours created or updated, please contact us to make an appointment.