Powers of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directives

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are often overlooked in the estate planning process, but are an important piece of most estate plans. A power of attorney gives one or more persons the power to act on your behalf. The power may be limited to a particular activity for one-time use, may be temporary, or may give permanent authority to act on your behalf. The power may take effect immediately, or only if you become unable to act for yourself due to mental or physical disability.

A power of attorney gives one or more persons the power to act on your behalf.

If you do not have a power of attorney and become unable to manage your personal or business affairs due to illness or mental incapacity, a court may appoint someone to act for you. A power of attorney allows you to choose who will represent your wishes and allows you to limit his or her authority.

Advanced Health Care Directives

If you are in a condition such that you can no longer express your preferences regarding medical treatment, decisions will be made for you. An advanced health care directive (also sometimes referred to as a Living Will) allows you to plan for these situations. State laws vary, but many states allow you to express your wishes regarding medical treatment if you become terminally ill or critically injured, and to appoint someone to make decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. Without such directives, your family may find it necessary to obtain court orders to deal with these complex medical situations.