Financial Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney allows you to name someone you trust as your agent to step in to take care of you and your financial matters. Usually a power of attorney is set up to be effective only upon your incapacity - if sometime down the road you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Such situations could arise from an accident, a coma, or dementia. Alternatively, a power of attorney could be set up to be effective immediately if you wanted someone to step in and help you right away.

Bottom line, if something happens to you, you want a power of attorney set up so that nobody has to go into court to have authority to take care of you. If something happened to you today, who would be able to take care of things? Who would be to able access your financial accounts, pay your mortgage, talk to your cable company, etc.? A spouse might be in a decent position to handle most of this stuff, but there’s almost always some red tape they run into. And what if your spouse is also unable to handle things?

The goal is to make sure that you are choosing the person you trust to be able to step in and take care of you, without their having to go through a lengthy court process of getting a conservatorship to get legal authority to take those same actions. Not only does this save a huge amount of time and money in avoiding court, it prevents family members from fighting each other for decision-making authority. You also name backups in the document, so that if your first choice is not able to act, you have alternates lined up.

Everybody, even young adults with little to no assets, would be wise to have a power of attorney in place to address these potential situations. Even seemingly small things, like dealing with a utility or cell phone bill in someone’s name alone, can be very problematic if a power of attorney is not in place.

Health Care Power of Attorney - Advance Healthcare Directive

An Advance Healthcare Directive provides for a medical power of attorney similar to the power of attorney addressed above. It allows you to name someone you trust to step in as your agent to take care of you, but specifically to address health care decisions. This includes speaking to doctors, getting medical records, and generally making health care decisions should you be unable to do so.

These documents are vital to have in place, especially in the case of an unexpected emergency medical situation. It is a terrible situation to have a family member, child, or significant other run into a bureaucratic road block in getting important healthcare information because there isn’t something in place. The goal is to be able to legally deal with these issues by having an advance health care directive so that nobody has to go through a lengthy and expensive court process called a conservatorship, especially considering the slow nature of such proceedings and the immediate need to make decisions in these situations.

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