At any point, you could get into a car crash or have a stroke that leaves you unconscious or unable to communicate with others. In that situation, you will be very vulnerable. You won’t be able to handle your own financial matters, make decisions about your medical care or tell others your wishes. You will become dependent on the people closest to you and the professionals providing your medical support.
Power of attorney documents are very important in your estate plan, especially if you are older or have never married. Even new adults can use powers of attorney to protect themselves in the event of a medical emergency. Your power of attorney gives someone access to your bank accounts to pay your bills or the authority to handle medical treatment decisions during your incapacitation.
Custom documents offer better protection
Not every power of attorney document will be as effective as others. The specific language your lawyer uses when drafting those documents can affect how long they retain their authority and can place important limits on what authority you pass to others.
All powers of attorney cease to have any legal authority when the person who drafted the documents dies. However, if the power of attorney doesn’t include language that makes it durable, it could lose effectiveness before then.
Incapacity can affect your powers of attorney
The permanent medical incapacitation of an adult can affect the legal viability of certain documents. A durable power of attorney specifically includes language clarifying that the document retains its legal authority even when the person who drafted it loses their capacity to enter into binding agreements.
Simply put, a durable power of attorney can help someone worried about long-term or permanent incapacitation due to dementia or similar health issues. Those granted authority via a durable power of attorney can continue acting in the best interest of the incapacitated party until their death. Essentially, durable powers of attorney can serve as a way to name your own guardian and retain control over the medical care you receive in the financial support available to you as your health declines.
Learning more about different estate planning tools like powers of attorney can help you enact the most effective protections for yourself as you age.