Answers To Important Questions About Powers Of Attorney And Living Wills
Below are some common questions we hear relating to these estate planning terms. The answers may give you some food for thought as you undertake to create or update your estate plan. Our attorneys are happy to address your specific questions or situation in an initial consultation.
Why are powers of attorney and living wills important?
Having a power of attorney and/or a living will is something we all should have. These documents help us plan for our future, especially for times when we cannot think or speak for ourselves due to physical or mental incapacity. Both of these safeguards involve choosing someone we trust to act on our behalf.
What is the difference between a power of attorney (POA) and living will?
A power of attorney or POA is a document you (the principal) draft which allows your designated person (the agent) to act on your behalf. Under a power of attorney, your agent can, for example, pay your mortgage and bills, cash checks on your behalf, file for bankruptcy on your behalf, give gifts on your behalf and do so much more. The type of powers your agent can have under the power of attorney will depend on what you specifically designate in the written document.
A living will, also called an advance directive, is a document that details how you wish to be medically treated (or not treated, as the case may be) in the event that you are in an “end-stage medical condition.” This means some type of advanced illness you are suffering from or another terminal condition which will eventually result in your death despite medical treatment. For example, would you want to be resuscitated if your heart stopped? Would you want to be on artificial life support? Do you want to be sedated at the end or lucid for your loved ones? And so on.
What is a “durable” power of attorney?
Durable means that the vested powers are invoked when you become incapacitated and continue indefinitely. A durable power of attorney most often refers to financial power of attorney and the authority to conduct your personal affairs.
What is health care power of attorney?
Health care power of attorney, sometimes called a health care proxy, designates a person to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are suddenly incapacitated or unable to communicate your wishes. For example, if you were unconscious or in a coma from a car accident, that person could authorize surgical decisions, release of your medical records and other medical care in accordance with your stated wishes or best interests.
Who should I choose to oversee my power of attorney?
It is important that you choose someone you fully trust to act as your “agent” in either a power of attorney or living will document. For health care POA, ideally, you want someone who lives close as they may need to come to the hospital. For financial POA, your agent should be not only trustworthy but solid with business, legal and money matters.
Can I revoke a power of attorney or change my living will?
Absolutely. You can revoke powers of attorney if you believe your agent is abusing his/her authority, or if you simply conclude they are not suited for the job. The caveat is that you must be “of sound mind” to make that decision. You can also change your living will, just as you can change any aspect of your last will and testament.
Ease Your Mind With Trustworthy Estate Planning Counsel
Email or call the office of Laura Robbins Law, L.L.C., today at 814-753-4625 to have your power of attorney and living will drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney.