Discussing any estate plan with an attorney should include a discussion of the role of Powers of Attorney and Advance Medical Directives, otherwise known as Living Wills.
WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY?
There are two types of powers of attorney:
- Financial Powers of Attorney: This document allows an individual to manage your finances, property and investments during your incapacity or disability, when you cannot make decisions for yourself.
- Health Care Powers of Attorney: This document allows an individual to seek out and manage health care for you when you become ill, incapacitated or disabled and cannot make decisions for yourself.
These powers can either be separately granted or they can be combined in one document, appointing one individual to be able to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf.
WHAT IF I BECOME INCAPACITATED? IS THE POWER OF ATTORNEY STILL VALID?
We always recommend to our clients that the power of attorney executed by them be what is called a durable power of attorney, which means it survives your incapacity and your agent can continue acting on your behalf even though you cannot communicate due to your condition. This is very important, since under this scenario, you need someone to be able to access your accounts, pay your bills and make decisions for you. A well crafted durable power of attorney assures that there is someone to take those actions and make those decisions for you upon your incapacity.
WHAT IF I DO NOT HAVE POWERS OF ATTORNEY?
Not having powers of attorney can be very difficult and expensive for your family if you become incapacitated or disabled. Without a power of attorney, the one avenue available to them is an Interdiction proceeding. In that proceeding, a court will appoint someone to serve as the curator over you.
Interdiction proceedings are expensive. With a properly drafted Durable Power of Attorney, you will be in a much better position to potentially avoid the need of any interdiction proceedings having to be filed being by your family.
WHAT IS AN ADVANCE MEDICAL DIRECTIVE?
Popularly known as living wills, an advance medical directive is a document that expresses your health care wishes when you are not able to communicate your wishes yourself and allows you to advise your family and your doctor what your wishes would be relative to your care if you would still be in a position to speak for yourself.
Call us today at Many & LoCoco to discuss in more detail these legal concepts. Act today to preserve your and your families future.