What are Powers of Attorney? Often, they are overlooked or misunderstand aspects of an Estate Plan. But, they are very important pieces to the puzzle.
Basically, you are giving another person the power or authority to act as your agent in some specified manner. Although not the topic of this post, there are three “shelf-lives” for a power of attorney, called a general power, durable power, and springing power. Read here to find out more about those. The areas of life that people create a Power of Attorney include medical decisions, financial decisions, and minor children.
One important side-note is that once you turn 18, you need a power of attorney for your parents to legally make decisions for you. You are not a child anymore and that right your parents once had, no longer automatically exists.
A medical power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you in the event you can not make them for yourself. As your agent, this person should be making decisions that are in your best interest. Even if you are married, it is important to have this document put in place so that the hospital staff knows who you have delegated to act on your behalf when you cannot speak for yourself. Also, a power of attorney for health care can include provisions allowing your agent to make funeral arrangements, if the need should arise.
A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent who can have access to your accounts, financial records and handle your money for you when you cannot. The financial power of attorney has the greatest array of potential responsibilities, including: spouse as agent to work with your IRA custodian; an agent to make real estate deals while you are somewhere else; an agent to keep your financial house in order if you because incapacitated or incarcerated, ie keeping up-to-date with your mortgage, utilities, insurances, kids costs, etc.
A minor children power of attorney allows you to appoint someone who can make decisions regarding your children in the event you can not make them for yourself. While this document does come into play if you are incapacitated or incarcerated for a period of time, often the power of attorney for care and custody of children comes into play during travel. Often used if you leave your kids with a family member as you travel for work or vacation. That way if something comes up, generally concerning health or school, your agent has legal ability to act in your absence. Also, if your kids travel with someone besides you, it is a good idea to give that person a power of attorney for the trip.
This is a not a comprehensive list of powers of attorney and their uses, but it does cover the topics that I see most often.
Schedule a conversation with Justin Jeppesen to take the first step towards creating your complete estate plan, with your Powers of Attorney! With a Free Initial Consultation we can explore your situation and plan for your future. If you have more questions, we'd love to help! Contact Jeppesen Law now: (208) 477-1785.