When you include the right documents in your estate plan, you can protect yourself throughout your golden years, as well as your dependent family members. Some documents largely protect you as the testator or specific family members.
Powers of attorney benefit everyone. They protect you from a situation in which you need outside support and have no one to act on your behalf, and they protect your family members. Those who might need to act on your behalf will have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have legally authorized them to take certain steps, and those that depend on you can have the protection of knowing there is someone to handle your health care needs or manage the household finances.
The two considerations below largely determine how effective your powers of attorney are at protecting you and the people you love.
Choosing the right agent
The person that you name to serve as your agent or attorney-in-fact in your powers of attorney will have authority over your future health care and your finances.
Therefore, it is crucial that you name an individual that you trust to act in your best interests and to behave in a competent and calm manner when their services become necessary. It is common practice for people to separate authority for financial and medical matters so that there are two different people handling these important areas of their lives.
Deciding when the power of attorney takes effect
One of the most important means of limiting the risk of someone abusing the authority granted in powers of attorney is to be very specific about when someone has that legal authority. Requiring that your incapacitation last for a certain amount of time or that there are certain matters that require immediate responses will prevent people from overreaching and potentially misusing the power granted in the documents that you create.
The more thorough and customized you draft your documents to be, the better they will protect you and provide guidance to those acting on your behalf. Including powers of attorney with the right details in your estate plan will protect you and the rest of your family if you ever experience some kind of emergency.