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3 reasons to add powers of attorney to an estate plan

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2024 | Estate Planning |

The term estate planning makes many people think of wills or possibly trusts. The main consideration for many testators putting together an estate plan is what might happen with their property and what protection their dependent family members require. However, estate plans are often stronger overall when they include more documents than just a will or a trust.

Living documents that have authority before someone’s death can also be an important inclusion in a modern estate plan. Powers of attorney take effect when someone becomes incapacitated and loses their authority when that person recovers or dies. The following are some of the reasons that many people choose to add powers of attorney to their estate plans.

Protection against financial hardship

If someone falls and ends up in a coma because of a head injury, they might fail to pay their rent or their mortgage. The longer they remain unconscious, the greater the risk that they could face aggressive collection efforts, foreclosure or eviction. Financial powers of attorney give a trusted individual the authority to handle someone’s financial obligations and resources until they improve enough to regain control over their finances.

Protection from improper medical care

Once someone turns 18, their parents no longer have any say in the medical care that they receive. If an individual does not have a spouse, there may not be anyone to speak up regarding their medical preferences. A medical power of attorney can name someone to make medical decisions on behalf of an individual. Combined with other documents that grant access to medical records and provide guidance about medical wishes, a medical power of attorney can help someone retain control over the treatment they receive, even when they are not able to communicate on their own behalf.

Protection from adult guardianship

Someone’s overall health and cognitive abilities change while they age. In some cases, older adults and those with significant medical challenges can no longer take care of their personal affairs without support. Any family member so inclined or even a professional caregiver could seek guardianship over someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other debilitating medical issues. Durable powers of attorney put in place before someone’s decline can protect them from guardianship held by someone they may not trust.

Those who create custom powers of attorney can provide very specific guidance for individuals they trust if they ever experience a personal emergency. Integrating the right documents into an estate plan can help protect someone from an uncertain future in this unpredictable world.


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