As a senior, you may at some point be faced with situations when you need assistance with handling your affairs. If you are hospitalized or incapacitated, who will pay your bills and manage your finances? Who will make your healthcare decisions if you can’t? Having a Power of Attorney allows you to make these choices, so it’s important for seniors to include it in the estate planning process.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that designates someone to act as an agent to make financial or medical decisions if you are unable to do so. A general POA covers financial and legal decisions, including paying bills, entering contracts, or buying and selling property. A durable POA includes a clause that allows the document to remain active if you become incapacitated. A limited POA limits the agent’s powers to one-time events, such as purchasing a home. A medical POA provides authorization for an agent to make decisions about your healthcare if you aren’t able to do so.
An estate planning attorney can help you create a POA that will protect your interests when you need it most.
Why do you need a Power of Attorney?
It lets you choose who will handle your financial matters.
A durable POA specifies who will handle your financial affairs if you are not able to do so. With a POA, you can choose a close family member or other trusted person to represent your interests.
It prevents the need for a guardianship or conservatorship.
If you don’t have a POA, a judge will appoint a guardian or conservator to handle your affairs for you, and that person may not make the choices you would prefer. Without a POA, you will have no input in who will fill this role.
It allows you to choose someone to handle your healthcare.
If you are unable to make decisions about your medical care, a medical POA will allow your agent to do so for you. If you don’t have one and there is an emergency that leaves you unable to make those decisions, a stranger may make those decisions for you.
It ensures that your wishes are followed.
The trusted agent you choose with a POA knows what your wishes are and can make sure those wishes are followed. A court-appointed guardian or conservator may not know how you would like certain financial or medical matters handled.
What happens if you don’t have a Power of Attorney?
The major drawback of not having a POA is that you won’t have any control over your affairs if you are unable to manage them. This means your court-appointed guardian or conservator could make decisions with which you wouldn’t agree.
Having a POA is an important step in the estate planning process for seniors since it allows you to choose someone to be your voice and make sure your financial and medical affairs are handled according to your wishes.
Author’s Bio – Steve Howards
Steve has been writing legal-centric articles for several years now. He started working with the personal injury attorney law firm Herrig & Vogt in 2019 as the Content Marketing Manager, which has allowed him to expand on his writing in personal injury, family law, and much more. Steve strives to offer the public advice on various laws covering a variety of practices.