Powers of attorney: What you should know when making your estate plans

Many people haven’t ever thought about what would happen if they become incapacitated, but this is something that deserves consideration. If you’re incapacitated, you’ll need someone who can pay your bills for you. You may also need someone to make health care decisions for you.

Powers of attorney designations are a way for your to decide who will do those critical tasks on your behalf. Setting up a power of attorney for health care and one for finances enables you to have a say in who handles those duties. It also gives the appointed individuals the legal ability to do them.

What do these power of attorney designations do?

The person who has the health care power of attorney for you works with your medical team to determine your treatment plan when you’re unable to do so. They can’t do anything that goes against the advanced directives you have on file, so be sure that you have your wishes outlined in that document. 

A financial power of attorney allows the appointed person to make decisions for you about your assets and finances. The person can sell or purchase assets on your behalf. They can also pay your bills, handle issues with your landlord, open a storage compartment for your personal items and so on. It’s possible to outline specific duties for the person who’s named in your financial power of attorney document, so discuss your wishes with your attorney.

Powers of attorney must be handled in accordance with state laws and are an important part of your estate plans. Remember it’s a good idea to discuss your wishes with the individuals you appoint so they know that they will be asked to take on these duties if you’re incapacitated. 

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