Estate Planning is an all-compassing term that includes the preparation of documents and strategies to manage your life and help your loved ones in the event of your death or incapacity. The Power of Attorney is a well-known and often used document that rivals the Last Will and Testament as the most critical part of the estate plan. While the will handles what happens in the event of your death, the Power of Attorney helps manage your life in the event of incapacity while you are alive.
Why are Powers of Attorney so important?
Estate Planning documents, including the POA, are like insurance. You pay a premium – in this case the cost of producing the documents with an attorney – to ensure that your loved ones are protected in the event something happens to you. The Power of Attorney outlines what should happen to you if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions on your own behalf while you’re alive. This includes decision-making for your healthcare and regarding your property and finances.
If you start suffering from dementia or enter into a coma, etc. your life still moves forward. Your bills need to be paid. Investments need to be managed. Properties may need to be sold. Medical treatment needs to be authorized. If you can’t speak for yourself, who is going to make those decisions on your behalf. The Power of Attorney nominates a primary attorney-in-fact to make those decisions and manage your accounts. You can choose more than once or choose subsequent back-up attorneys-in-fact to protect yourself in the future.
Without a Power of Attorney in place, your family will not be able to access financial accounts in your name or help pay bills. They may struggle to deal with your medical care with HIPAA providing both protections and barriers in these instances. Without proper Estate Planning, your loved ones would be forced to file for a guardianship to ask the Court for these protections. The cost of a guardianship and the time involved is far greater than just preparing a Power of Attorney before it is needed.
Working with an attorney to prepare your Estate Planning is simple. The Power of Attorney especially does not require substantial time or effort to ensure you are properly protected. At a minimum, knowing who you would want to be your attorney-in-fact, your decision-maker, in the event of incapacity is necessary. This is most often your spouse or domestic partner followed by adult children, siblings, or even long-term friends or neighbors that can be trusted.
At the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS, we are able to quickly and efficiently consult with our clients to help determine if a general durable power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney are appropriate. Our experienced team will answer questions and ensure you understand these important decisions. Finally, the attorneys at Magnuson Lowell PS, will quickly set your appointments to move these issues forward, so they do not linger longer than necessary. Call today for a free case evaluation.