By Matthew A. Ferri, Esq. Estate planning is not only about distributing your assets at death. It also involves safeguarding your interests during your lifetime, particularly if unforeseen circumstances render you unable to make decisions on your own. A Power of Attorney (POA) grants someone you trust the authority to act on your behalf in various situations. In this article, we’ll explore the role of the Power of Attorney in estate planning.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives another person, known as an “agent,” the authority to make decisions and act on your behalf. The extent of these powers can be broad or limited, depending on your preferences and the type of POA you create.
A Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters is invaluable. Your chosen agent can manage your bank accounts, investments, real estate, business interests and other assets, as well as contact institutions, pay your bills, and handle your legal affairs on your behalf if you are unable. This person is someone you trust implicitly, who understands your values and financial goals. They should also be organized and willing to take on the responsibilities of the role. Your power of attorney can become effective immediately when you sign it, or only after you are declared incompetent.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. It’s crucial that they are aware of your values and preferences and would be willing to follow any specific instructions you leave them. This is particularly important in end-of-life care and medical emergencies.
Clearly stating your preferences in a Power of Attorney can reduce disagreements among family members about who should make decisions for you. Creating a Power of Attorney allows you to maintain control. You choose who will make timely decisions on your behalf, ensuring that your wishes are respected. Without a Power of Attorney, if you become incapacitated, the court may need to appoint a guardian or conservator. This court appointed guardian, who may not know your wishes, will make decisions on your behalf. This process can be time-consuming, costly, and may not align with your preferences.
In estate planning, Powers of Attorney are valuable tools that allow you to maintain control over your affairs, even when you are unable to do so. By proactively utilizing Powers of Attorney, you can preserve your autonomy and spare your loved ones the emotional and financial burdens associated with potential legal proceedings. To ensure your estate plan is comprehensive and legally sound, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney, contact us at 248-409-0256 for a complimentary initial consultation.