Planning for the end of life is often hard and uncomfortable, but it’s in the best interests of you and your loved ones. Should there come a day where you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself, it’s crucial to have protections in place that will ensure your affairs are managed.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document in which you name a trusted person as your agent to make important decisions on your behalf. You have total control of the terms of your POA, as well as the circumstances in which it will come into effect. You may also cancel or revoke the document at any time.
While an individual will commonly establish a POA as they reach their later years, a POA may be appropriate for anyone 18 years of age or older. Creating a POA today could be the best safeguard for your financial and health care wishes at any age.
Managing financial needs
If you aren’t mentally capable of handling your finances, a POA is a very useful document to have. Whether you need assistance with day-to-day matters such as paying your bills or more extensive responsibilities such as managing investments, real estate or taxes, you can authorize your agent to handle it all.
Rest assured, your agent won’t be able to use your finances for his or her benefit or have the power to change the terms of your will. They serve only to handle what you have stipulated in the document.
Managing medical needs
Serious medical conditions can arise at any time. A POA for health care decisions, sometimes called a health care proxy, allows an agent to make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated. You may define which treatments you would or wouldn’t like to receive or what measures to take if you are in a medical emergency or terminally ill.
A medical POA will only go into effect when you can no longer make your own health care choices. You may even create a separate POA for your medical and financial needs and name multiple agents to keep delicate health matters private.
It’s wise to have a plan in place for your most important matters before you need it. A POA isn’t only reassuring for you but may save your family and loved ones from significant hurdles in the event of your incapacitation.