Too often in life, we neglect to make simple preparations for major emergencies. No one likes to think about what would happen if they were suddenly incapacitated due to an accident or illness. And unfortunately, many people wait until their sunset years to ponder the question, “Do I need a power of attorney?” Adults of all ages should legally designate someone they trust to make important financial and medical decisions for them through a power of attorney in case the unthinkable happens. This important legal instrument allows you to delegate your legal authority to another person.
Do I Need a Power of Attorney?
Do I need a power of attorney? Yes, absolutely. If you’re able to read this article, you should have a power of attorney document that indicates who is allowed to make choices about your health and your money in the event of an emergency. Parents of minor children can also use a power of attorney to protect their kids.
Four main types of power of attorney exist: durable, springing, general, and limited. A durable power of attorney takes effect immediately and remains valid if the principal (the person who executes the document) becomes incapacitated. While the document is active, the principal may still make legal decisions on his or her own. A springing power of attorney, on the other hand, only takes effect in certain situations. For example, you may stipulate that it will “spring” into effect if you become incapacitated.
If you wish to limit the decision-making powers of your agent/attorney-in-fact (the person you grant authority with the legal document), designate the specific decisions the person may make in a limited power of attorney. This type of power of attorney provides the agent with the power to act on your behalf for a very limited purpose. You can also express forbid certain powers. Finally, if you wish to grant your agent every power and right that you have as a person, use a general power of attorney. If you use this comprehensive legal instrument, you must trust the designated person with your life.
Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions
Using a financial power of attorney, you can give someone control of your finances. For example, you might execute a limited financial power of attorney to authorize a single transaction, such as granting your brother permission to sign a financial document on your behalf while you are traveling. Or, you could use a springing power of attorney to give a designated person control of your finances in the event that you become incapacitated. In rare instances, a person might use a durable and comprehensive power of attorney to grant someone total control of their finances immediately. Whichever type of document you use, take your time when selecting the agent to ensure that you can trust the person to make sound, responsible, and prudent decisions.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions
A healthcare power of attorney allows you (the executor) to name an agent who you will allow to make important medical decisions for you. It goes into effect if the executor becomes incapacitated. For example, if you were to become unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate, the designated agent would have the authority to make important medical decisions on your behalf. This includes life-or-death situations, although we do recommend that you create a “living will” that specifically addresses your wishes in life-threatening circumstances.
Considering the great amount of power you will grant the agent, it is important to discuss your preferences for medical care with your agent while you are in good health. For example, do you oppose any specific treatments, drugs, or procedures? How do you feel about being on life support? Are there any circumstances under which you wouldn’t want to be resuscitated? In addition to discussing these issues with your agent, specify your wishes within the power of attorney document and a living will.
“Do I need a power of attorney?” you ask. No matter what your age or situation, the answer is yes. Powers of attorney provide unparalleled protection in dire circumstances, ensuring that no one takes advantage of your incapacity. By communicating your wishes for your future and selecting someone you trust to manage your financial and medical decisions should you become incapacitated, you can enjoy peace of mind. To get started, simply locate an experienced and reputable attorney in your area.
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? If so, be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place, located in Bartlett, Tennessee. We would be happy to schedule a tour for you so that you can explore the community, meet some of the residents, and ask any questions you might have. For more information, please call 901-854-6590. We look forward to meeting you!