If you are thinking about estate planning tools, basic documents include powers of attorney (POA) for healthcare and finances.
It is important for you to discuss these documents with your attorney sooner than later since delaying could jeopardize your opportunity to activate the POAs.
The POA for healthcare
Debilitating illnesses happen all too quickly, and, along with sudden accidents, can leave you incapacitated. A power of attorney for healthcare enables you to name someone you trust to step in and make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot speak for yourself. The POA gives your agent the legal authority to make decisions about the doctors who treat you, hospital care and surgery. The person you select can also make decisions about assisted living, nursing home or home health care on your behalf.
The POA for finances
The power of attorney for finances often accompanies the POA for healthcare. This POA gives your agent the authority to access your financial accounts to pay bills, file taxes, make investment decisions and manage your property among other related tasks. Even if you are mentally stable, your agent can help you with everyday goals such as balancing your checkbook or checking on your social security benefits.
The timing issue
Preparing your powers of attorney documents can save your family the time and expense of obtaining guardianship to make decisions and manage your care if you should become incapacitated. As you age, you may face some form of dementia. Keep in mind that you must be mentally competent at the time you sign your POAs, or they will not be legal. Although you can revoke or revise them at any time, preparing these documents in a timely fashion will give you and your family peace of mind.