To better understand the beneficial power of attorney, you must first know what you lose by not having one. No one plans on being incapacitated or seriously injured. But if it happens, we have loved ones and family members to take care of us, to talk to the doctors on our behalf, to pay the mortgage on our homes.
Though you may have several people eager and willing to take care of and support you, they may not have the ability to do so. Suppose you are over the age of 18 and become incapacitated. In that case, your friends and family cannot make medical or financial decisions for you—unless you have given them power of attorney. Otherwise, they are forced to petition a probate court to obtain guardianship (medical decisions) or conservatorship (financial decisions).
A New View On Estate Planning
When people think of estate planning, they commonly associate it with something only wealthy people do (e.g., trusts), or death and dying. The overlooked benefit is that it is a powerful tool for someone to use if they cannot make decisions for themselves.
In addition to the above, there are other circumstances in which estate planning can benefit you and your spouse while you are still alive and in good health. For example, imagine if you and your spouse are looking to buy a property in another state. Maybe one of you needs to stay back with the kids or cannot get the time off of work. If you and your spouse have created a financial power of attorney, they can sign for you at the closing table.
To Help Others
Another element of estate planning, which is also overlooked, is formally choosing advanced medical directives. This legal document states the medical treatment you wish to receive if you cannot do so independently.
The added benefit here is that you are taking the time to make your wishes known now so that others aren't forced into the emotionally stressful position of doing so for you. If you are in a vegetative state and are being kept alive by extraordinary measures, medical professionals will be asking if they should continue to provide this level of care.
Your loved ones will likely answer in a manner that you would approve of. However, they simply will not know if you haven't declared what that is. And this can be a tough decision for someone to make. Luckily, you can take that burden off them by creating an estate plan.
If someone you love becomes incapacitated without having created power of attorney, you may be left in a challenging position. As badly as you want to help, you may be extremely limited because the medical staff cannot heed your advice without the proper documentation in place.
Don't let it get to that point. Take the time to meet with trusted legal advisors and establish a power of attorney as part of your estate plan. Contact Hamilton Law to schedule your free consultation.