Recently we have heard of two individuals hindered by unexpected injuries. Actor Jeremy Renner suffered horrific injuries while helping a neighbor clear a driveway with his snowcat, and football player Damar Hamlin nearly lost his life on a football field. Fortunately, both survived and are recuperating.
We are, however, reminded by these two events that unexpected events happen all the time. One important thing you can do for yourself, your family, and your loved ones is to incorporate a power of attorney and a health care proxy in your estate or life plan. A durable power of attorney and health care proxy are both legal documents that can be used to provide guidance to family members who may be making decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. A recent article from Farm Progress, "Often overlooked estate planning issues: Powers of attorney," explains how this document works and why it's so important.
We are living longer, and the chances of developing a condition impairing or robbing us of our ability to make important health or financial decisions increase yearly. Most people will become incapacitated at some point, especially as they age. Some experts believe this number is as high as two-thirds of all Americans who will become incapacitated at some point in their lives. Life planning is essential.
Not just for adults.
Powers of Attorney and health care proxies are just as necessary for young adults because the risk of disability or impairment is often higher than death for someone younger.
Designating a Power of Attorney allows you to choose a trusted person to step in and act as your agent. A "Durable" POA remains in effect until it is revoked or upon the death of the person who made it.
The person or persons named to act for you through your POA is your "attorney-in-fact" or "agent." the person establishing the POA is the "principal." The principal has the right to revoke the POA until they lack the capacity to do so.
There are a few misconceptions about a power of attorney. The first misconception is that you can create a power of attorney after becoming incapacitated. You cannot; it is too late. Your power of attorney must be in place before you become incapacitation. If you do not have your power of attorney in place, it may become necessary for a court to appoint someone to act on your behalf through a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding. To avoid someone making decisions for you who you may not have chosen, it is imperative that you have the proper power of attorney in place before becoming incapacitated.
The principal who designates the POA should choose a family member, trusted friend, or professional representative to ensure their interests are well looked after.
Who should you choose to be your power of attorney agent?
Lastly, all power of attorney documents is not the same, as there are varying levels of authority within each document. Depending on your situation, your POA document should be customized to meet your specific needs, and when you work with us, we will make sure this is done.
Everyone should also have a Health Care Proxy or a medical POA. The Health Care POA should be someone who can act quickly, so it's optimal to name someone who lives nearby in case there's an emergency and decisions need to be made promptly.
What skills should your health care agent posses?
A good healthcare agent should possess intelligence, compassion, empathy, and grit.
We can help you understand the implications of creating a power of attorney and health care proxy and answer any questions you may have. We work hard to ensure that all your needs are addressed so that we can create a helpful document for you. With our expertise and dedication, we can provide you with peace of mind in knowing that your wishes will be followed as they should be.
If you need assistance drafting a power of attorney document or want more information about this process, please don't hesitate to contact us today.