Planning for unexpected incapacity is just as important as planning for end-of-life wishes. With a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, you can designate a person to manage your financial affairs in the event you are unable to do so. This person is referred to as your Agent. You can choose whether to give your Agent broad powers to manage all aspects of your finances, or tailor the document to only grant specific powers.
The Power of Attorney can also be held under a letter of instruction until such time as it is actually needed. Since it is durable, it is still valid even if you subsequently become disabled or incompetent. However, a Power of Attorney is only valid during your lifetime; after your death, the Agent has no authority to act under the Power of Attorney. The Agent under a Power of Attorney is under a fiduciary duty to manage your finances for your benefit, but nonetheless, you want to choose someone you trust. You are free to revoke the Power of Attorney at any time during your life as long as you still have the mental capacity to do so. Having a Durable Financial Power of Attorney in place can help your family avoid the need of going to court to pursue a guardianship in the event you are incapacitated for any period of time and unable to manage your financial affairs.
Just as important as planning for who would handle your finances in the event you are unable to do so, is designating who would make health care decisions for you. With a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or Health Care Proxy in Massachusetts, you can designate the person you trust to make critical medical decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated. You can also provide specific guidance on your wishes regarding life support and end-of-life care. Having these selections properly documented will be helpful to your loved ones in making decisions regarding your care. It is also helpful for hospitals, doctors, and medical personnel so they know who has authority to make decisions on your behalf. Having a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care in place can also help your loved ones avoid the need to go to court to pursue a guardianship in the event you are incapacitated for any period of time.
Additionally, the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care allows a person to direct whether treatment can be given to them over their objection, if the Health Care Agent believes it is the right choice. This option is intended to address persons with dementia who may not understand what the medical professionals are recommending. Without this selection, some medical personnel will not treat a person with dementia who objects to treatment without the family going to court and obtaining a guardianship.
Our seasoned Estate Planning team can help you make sure all your documents are ready before you need them.