It’s called estate planning for a reason. It requires you to look ahead and plan for the future to try to avoid or mitigate the risks of decreased assets or healthcare procedures you do not want. Those issues can be addressed with powers of attorney.
Through these legal documents you authorize someone to act on your behalf. That person acts as your agent and needs to follow your directions (as much as possible) and act in your best interests. As long as you are competent to make decisions you can revoke a power of attorney or amend it.
Financial Power of Attorney
This empowers someone to make financial decisions for your benefit. This can save your assets in a number of ways. For example, if you have a home, you have bills to pay (mortgage, taxes, utilities and insurance). Who will pay them if you’re incapacitated for an extended period time and no other person is authorized to access your financial accounts? Your agent could pay those bills, potentially liquidating one type of asset to grow another type, allowing you to maintain your home.
This document can be as all encompassing (power over any and all assets and spend money on anything that benefits you) or narrow (access to one bank account to pay certain bills). Since this person will have access to your financial resources, chose an agent you trust and who’s capable of making rational financial decisions.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
This power of attorney authorizes your agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you’re unable to do so. It should spell out what kind of healthcare you want, and don’t want, in case you’re incapacitated.
If you want treatment that the rest of your family may disagree with (such as not wanting extraordinary measures to prolong your life) you’ll need to pick an agent able and willing to make unpopular, important, life altering decisions. If you want minimal intervention, someone carrying out your wishes could limit medical procedures and costs, saving your assets for other purposes that should be spelled out in your will.
No matter your age or physical condition, it’s a good idea to get these types of documents done now before something unexpected happens. Orange County, CA estate planning attorney Brian Chew can help. Call (949)347-5256 to discuss your situation, your future wants and needs and how your plans can be protected with a power of attorney.