Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is an “advance directive” naming another person (your “agent”) to make decisions and act for you. We prepare separate powers of attorney for financial decisions and for medical decisions. Powers of attorney should avoid the need for a court proceeding to establish a guardianship and/or conservatorship (links to page) if you are unable to make your own decisions. You do not lose your ability to make your own decisions by executing a power of attorney.
We will discuss whether you want to make your financial power of attorney effective immediately, or only upon your incapacity (a “springing” power of attorney). You can also combine the two concepts by making it effective between you and your spouse immediately, but only on incapacity for your backup, or “successor” agents.
For the medical power of attorney, which will only be effective if you are unable to give medical directions, we will discuss whether you want the agent to have full authority for end-of-life decisions such as withdrawing life support. Alternatively, the medical power of attorney can defer to your Living Will, which will bind the doctors to follow your end-of-life directions if they determine you are in a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state.
Powers of attorney are not just for the elderly. You should have them put in place as early as possible, as you must have capacity to execute the power of attorney, and you can never be sure when and accident might hinder that capacity. Additionally, you may be surprised that once your child reaches age eighteen, you may face difficulty in obtaining medical or other information about them. We can work with your entire family to ensure that you are still able to assist your children when they are young adults.
We can assist you with putting your powers of attorney in place, whether as standalone documents or as part of your estate plan. In many cases, we consider them to be the most important document in the plan.