Updating estate documents is an important protective step that many people take every few years. In addition to making changes to the property addressed in a will and the beneficiaries set to inherit said assets, testators may sometimes need to update the living documents that are designed to protect their interests in the event of an emergency, such as when a testator experiences a lengthy incapacitation due to a coma following a car crash.
Powers of attorney are often someone’s first line of protection when they are unable to speak for themselves and/or are unconscious for an extended period of time. When does an individual potentially need to update their power of attorney documentation?
When they need to adjust their agent
The agent or attorney-in-fact named in power of attorney documents has a very important role to play should an emergency occur. They will either have the authority to handle someone’s medical needs or their financial matters. In some cases, one individual may have both types of authority.
If there has been a change in the relationship between the testator and the person they selected as their attorney in fact, then they may need to change who they named to handle their affairs in their power of attorney. Other changes, including someone getting married, medical issues or a long-distance move could also necessitate changes to their power of attorney documents.
When their needs have shifted
Perhaps someone has started a professional practice and now has far more complicated financial support needs. They may want to replace their cousin who they named as their agent with a professional fiduciary.
Maybe someone now has different medical wishes, so they want to change the instructions that they leave for making care choices on their behalf. Both changes in personal circumstances and interpersonal relationships may necessitate updates to existing estate planning documents.
Updating powers of attorney and other estate planning documents with the assistance of a legal professional can help testators to better control their legacy and the support they may receive in the event of an emergency that leaves them incapacitated.