Powers of attorney give someone legal authority to act for another person. People often feel nervous about giving authority to someone else.
Concern about the abuse of power might prevent someone from creating powers of attorney when they would absolutely benefit from such documents. Both of the benefits provide strong reasons to consider integrating power of attorney documents into your living will and estate plan.
Your assets aren’t at risk
Imagine that you suffer a brain injury in a car crash. You have insurance and can get medical care, but it is several months before you regain consciousness. When you wake up, you learn that the bank foreclosed on your house. Since the home was only in your name and no one had access to your financial accounts, the mortgage went unpaid.
You could also find yourself struggling to catch up on unpaid credit card bills and other financial basics that went unaddressed during your hospitalization. Repossessions and other financial consequences could be a real issue unless you have someone authorized to pay your bills on your behalf.
Your spouse isn’t saddled with difficult medical decisions
Once you become an adult, family members lose the right to make decisions about your care. Your spouse may be the only one who has to decide what care you receive when you become incapacitated unless you name someone else in a power of attorney.
Assigning medical authority to a sibling, a child or other family member can take the strain off of your spouse during a very difficult time. It can also help ensure that you receive the specific care you would prefer, as you can provide instructions about your preferences in addition to the authorization to make decisions and access your medical records.
Drafting powers of attorney can protect you from mistakes about your medical preferences and financial consequences when you can’t act on your own. Integrating these important documents into your estate plan could benefit you and the people you love.