When planning for the future, an estate plan is a key legal instrument to have in place. While the main purpose people have for creating an estate plan is to designate heirs and ease the distribution process of their assets after their death, it can also decide your own fate.
Powers of attorney designation are among the most important factors in an estate plan. In fact, people who aren’t planning their estate for asset purposes may still consider creating the correct legal documents to declare a power of attorney. A power of attorney could be a life or death decision. Here’s what you should know:
Financial and medical decisions may need to be made on your behalf
Many people don’t know what a power of attorney is, often because most estate planning articles only talk about the asset distribution process of a will.
A power of attorney is a representative who is empowered to make decisions on the behalf of the testator. In other words, if a testator is incapacitated because of a catastrophic accident or medical illness, then your power of attorney designee steps in to make financial and medical decisions.
There are two kinds of powers of attorney: medical and financial. A medical power of attorney may decide if a testator undergoes surgery or is given medicine. A financial power of attorney could pay rent, debt or utilities. Most people, however, designate one person as a general power of attorney who handles both medical and financial matters – but, the roles can be delegated to two people.
If you’re planning your estate, you may need to know your legal options to make sure that your plans are really right for you.