Trusts and wills are critical, because they provide guidance to your loved ones about how your estate should be handled after you die. However, a strong estate plan should also address the possibility of loss of capacity. This is where powers of attorney and healthcare directives come in.
A Power to Attorney is a document under which you authorize another person or entity (an “Attorney-in-Fact” or “Agent”) to act on your behalf. You sign a Power of Attorney document so that your Agent will be able to handle your affairs during a period when you are unavailable or unable to do so. An Agent is not required to be a lawyer.
A Power of Attorney may be either general or specific. A General Power of Attorney gives the Agent broad authority to act for you. A Special Power of Attorney grants the Agent limited authority to act only in specified situations. In addition, a Power of Attorney may be durable. That means it remains in effect even if you become incompetent or incapable of handling your affairs. If you do not want it to remain in effect, then the document can be made “non-durable”.
Advanced health care directives (AHCD) allow you to have legal control over your health care treatment in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. The AHCD allows you to do either or both of the following two things to prepare yourself in the event you become incapacitated:
1. Appoint a health care agent
The AHCD allows you to appoint a health care agent who will have the legal authority to make health care decisions for you if you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
2. Prepare instructions for health care
The AHCD allows you to make specific written instructions for your future health care in the event of a situation in which you can no longer speak for yourself.
At the law firm of Patterson Law Firm, our attorneys are committed to providing comprehensive estate plans that address all possibilities. We take great care to create POAs and healthcare directives that give you peace of mind.