A good estate plan doesn’t just protect your family members after you die. It also protects you in the event of some kind of medical emergency. Cardiac events, head injuries and other emergency medical situations can leave someone incapable of communicating. Other times, their condition may affect their testamentary capacity or legal ability to act on their own behalf.
Whether someone is unconscious or mentally incapacitated, they will depend on others to take care of them until they recover. Including powers of attorney in your estate plan can help protect you from major issues if you have a medical emergency.
How can you protect yourself with powers of attorney?
Identify your biggest potential liabilities
Do you have bills that you must pay or risk losing collateral property like your home or a vehicle? Do you have bank accounts that no one else can access? Do you have medical preferences that are important to you for moral or religious reasons?
Recognizing why you might need support during your incapacitation is crucial to planning to protect yourself. After all, you can’t make a reasonable decision about what authority to grant to others if you don’t identify possible risks.
It is common for people to assign medical authority to someone they trust or to grant someone access to financial accounts with powers of attorney so that others can handle their affairs during their incapacitation.
Pick individuals who are trustworthy to help you
During an incapacitating medical scenario, you are exceptionally vulnerable. You want to name people that you can trust to act on your behalf in your power of attorney documents. You might name more than one person or even separate financial and medical authority so that no one person has too much power.
Provide detailed instructions
The language you use in your powers of attorney will determine what authority you delegate to someone else and what actions they can take on your behalf. Using the right language to provide instructions and to limit the power or access you grant to someone will give you the most protection in a vulnerable position.
Thinking about your medical wishes and financial needs can help you create an estate plan that protects you as well as the people you love.