The average testator putting together an estate plan wants to finish the process as quickly as possible. People typically find the contemplation of their own deaths to be quite unpleasant, and they may, therefore, only do the bare minimum to ensure the protection and financial stability of their closest and most vulnerable family members.
Despite people’s aversion to the process, estate planning can also be an important step for their own protection as they continue to age. One of the most valuable types of documents that people could add to an estate plan are powers of attorney, which grant someone medical or financial authority in the event of an individual’s incapacitation. These are some of the primary reasons people decide to draft powers of attorney.
Avoiding a future guardianship
If someone knows that Alzheimer’s disease runs in their family, they will likely worry about the possibility of a family member or a professional caregiver pursuing a guardianship later in their life. Guardianship strips someone of authority over their own day-to-day experience, and many people are eager to avoid that exact situation. Durable powers of attorney can allow someone to name an agent whom they trust to handle their financial matters and medical choices when they cannot do so anymore.
Addressing assets that could be vulnerable
Real property with a mortgage attached or a vehicle purchased with a loan would be at risk of foreclosure or repossession efforts if someone falls behind on their payments. If someone owns a business, they will need to make payments on machinery or rental space even if they become incapacitated. Powers of attorney help ensure that there is an agent with the authority to conduct financial transactions on behalf of someone experiencing a personal emergency.
Taking pressure off of a spouse
Often, in a medical emergency, a spouse will be the only person with authority to speak on someone’s behalf. The stress of having a loved one experience in medical emergency can affect someone’s recall ability and leave them struggling to remember conversations they may have previously had about someone’s specific medical preferences. Naming someone else other than a spouse to handle personal financial and medical matters can take the pressure off of someone who is likely already struggling in a difficult situation. Those without a spouse may also find a power of attorney to be beneficial because it allows them to have someone act on their behalf when there might otherwise not be anyone with the necessary legal authority to do so.
Adding the right documents to one’s estate plan can provide an individual with protection under a variety of different life situations. Seeking legal guidance can help someone to better ensure that they have documents relevant to their needs in place at all times.