The fundamental element of your estate plan is a will that passes through probate court. However, there are other documents you should incorporate into your planning to diversify your estate and even help yourself while still alive. A power of attorney document is one tool you can use to plan for yourself in times of need.
There are a few situations where you may want or need to grant another person access to your personal affairs. A power of attorney document allows you to dictate who can make what decisions and act on your behalf under specific conditions.
What circumstances may require a power of attorney?
A power of attorney becomes active in certain circumstances. When preparing your designations, you should design at least two:
If you face a medical condition or crisis that leaves you without speech, cognitive ability or even consciousness, you want someone you trust to make medical decisions for you. A medical power of attorney gives a person you appoint the right to talk to doctors, direct medical care and make decisions on your behalf. You should pick someone who will abide by your wishes concerning end-of-life care.
A situation that leaves you unable to decide on medical care also makes you unfit to handle money. You may choose to appoint one person to take care of both, or you may want to divide up the duties. Either way, a financial power of attorney may act as you would and have complete access to your assets, debts and cash. When necessary, the designee may also buy and sell your property to pay for your continued care.
A power of attorney lifts if the court deems you recovered enough to make decisions. However, these decisions may carry through until your death in some cases.