Protecting Your Golden Years
As you age, you want to retain your independence as long as possible, but you also want to put measures in place that protect you when you are no longer capable of making the right decisions, whether with respect to medical, financial or other concerns. Unfortunately, if you wait too long and lose capacity without putting the proper planning in place, things become more complicated. Without a power of attorney and living will/health care proxy in place, your loved ones, may have to seek guardianship which can be a complex and costly process. You should therefore consider making a power of attorney and a living will/health care proxy so that you can designate how you want various issues handled and who you want handling them.
What a Power of Attorney Will Do for You
A power of attorney allows you to give you the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf to another person. Issues most commonly addressed in a power of attorney are financial matters, including but not limited to management of financial accounts, investments, real estate, taxes and gifting. The most common form of power of attorney is a “durable power of attorney.” A durable power of attorney goes into effect immediately upon execution and terminates upon the death of the person granting the power of attorney unless it has been revoked prior to death.
There are a couple other options, though. You can establish a “springing” power of attorney. With this approach, the authority to make decisions does not transfer immediately, but is conditioned on a specific event, such as:
- The determination by a doctor or other professional that the grantor lacks capacity to make his or her own decisions
- The occurrence of a specific event, such as a surgical procedure
A power of attorney may also be a “special” or “limited” one, established for a single transaction, surgical procedure or inaccessibility.
What a Living Will/Health Care Proxy Will Do for You
A living will/health care proxy is really two (2) documents in one. The living will portion allows you to specify how you want your health care handled in certain situations such as a terminal illness. The health care proxy portion allows you to designate who you want to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them yourself.
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