Regardless of your age, having powers of attorney and other vital estate planning documents in place can help to ensure you and your family are prepared if you fall ill and are unable to make decisions for yourself. Coronavirus has affected people of all ages and left some incapacitated for weeks or even months. If there were ever a good time to see a wills and estate attorney to help you draft POAs, it is now.
Power of Attorney for Health Care
This document enables you to name an agent who will make medical decisions for you should you become unable to do so. These decisions may include medication, treatment options, surgery, end-of-life care, and just about any other medical issues that may arise.
Your estate law attorney can also draft an advance directive, which outlines your wishes regarding life-sustaining measures such as mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration. It also allows you to specify whether you want resuscitation measures such as CPR.
Having these essential documents ready to go in case you become gravely ill or you are injured in an accident makes your wishes clear, which takes a huge burden off your loved ones. No one wants to make these serious decisions without having any idea of what a family member would want. Having an experienced lawyer assist you with drafting these documents also ensures they are legally sound.
Powers of Attorney for Finances
If you are laid up in the hospital, your rent, mortgage, utilities, and other bills still need to be paid. In a POA for finances, you can designate someone you trust to handle your finances in the event of your incapacitation. You can be as specific as you like about which financial duties they are authorized to fulfill. In addition to making sure your bills are paid, you can authorize your agent to manage bank accounts, investments, real estate, and insurance policies, make deposits, file taxes, and any other financial matters that need to be taken care of.
A well-drafted power of attorney for finances can protect your financial stability and prevent unscrupulous people from taking advantage of you. Both types of POAs can help minimize conflict within your family. If you’re unsure about who to name as your agent in either POA, your lawyer can offer an objective perspective so you can make well-informed decisions.
Other Things to Know about POAs
Probate attorneys, wills and trusts lawyers, and estate planning lawyers can all help you create solid powers of attorney that protect your rights. You can revoke or alter your powers of attorney at any time, as long as you are mentally capable of doing so. You can also terminate your powers of attorney if you get better and are able to make decisions for yourself. Irrevocable powers of attorney are extremely rare. POAs are no longer valid in event of your death.
If you are divorced or your spouse has passed away, it is critical to update your entire estate plan. It is especially important to create or revise your powers of attorney if you do not wish to have your former spouse make health care or financial decisions for you or if you have been remarried. If you are currently working with local divorce attorneys, they may be able to help you update your powers of attorney and other documents.