Powers of attorney are documents that most people never need. These estate planning forms transfer legal authority for medical or financial matters to another person in the event of someone’s future incapacitation.
The average individual will need to plan for their own death but may not experience any lengthy period of incapacitation before they die. While needing powers of attorney is relatively rare, those who do wind up in a coma or declared incompetent by the courts because of cognitive decline wil benefit from having the protection of a power of attorney already in place.
What are the main benefits of creating powers of attorney while you are still healthy enough to do so?
You avoid financial and medical difficulties
If no one can access your bank account or open your mail when a car crash leaves you on life support, you can fall behind on your mortgage or your credit card bills. It’s also possible that the standard practices that doctors would adhere to in their attempts to save your life would violate your personal moral code or your religion.
Powers of attorney allow you to name people you trust to handle your financial matters and also ensure that there is someone making medical decisions that align with your beliefs and priorities.
You protect your loved ones in a difficult time
If there is anything more distressing than watching a loved one suffer cognitive decline or fight for their lives on medical machinery, it is the pressure to make major decisions on behalf of that person without proper guidance.
Creating advance directives in conjunction with powers of attorney helps ensure that the people making decisions on your behalf know what your preferences actually are. You can also name someone whom you trust who won’t be as emotionally affected by your emergency as your spouse or children might be.
You can choose a guardian whom you trust
If you develop Alzheimer’s disease or otherwise lose your testamentary capacity as you age, someone from your family or even a medical caregiver could seek a guardianship that gives them control over your finances and your health care.
You can protect yourself from the wrong person taking authority over your life by creating durable powers of attorney now. Even if you permanently lose your capacity to create new documents, the ones you already have in place will authorize someone you trust to handle your medical decisions and financial matters.
Adding the right documents to your estate plan, including powers of attorney, will protect you and your family members from the most unpredictable possibilities in life.