May 1st, 2017
When people prepare for their “golden years,” they always make sure that their will or trust includes provisions for how their “gold” (or financial properties) will be handled after they pass, yet sometimes they overlook something that is equally as important: power of attorney.
Since nobody can predict a future disability or incapacitation, preparation for power of attorney can be critical, because you may not be able to make important financial or life-and-death healthcare decisions on your own – and without naming a POA in advance, family members could be forced into costly and time-consuming delays.
In a nutshell, this is how a POA works: you select someone you trust to handle your affairs in case of an emergency, keeping in mind that a spouse does not automatically have your power of attorney over property that is in your name only.
A conventional POA starts when it is signed and continues in force until you become mentally unable to make coherent decisions. A durable POA begins when it is signed but stays in effect for a lifetime unless you initiate the cancellation. A springing POA comes into play only when a specific event occurs – your incapacitation, for instance. Plus you can still have a Living Will in addition to a healthcare POA, for addressing specific issues and wishes related to medical treatment if you have a terminal condition.
Finally (and perhaps most importantly) remember that signing a POA does not deprive you of control over your personal affairs. It is a contingency document that becomes a powerful instrument only when it is needed.