Life can be pretty unpredictable. You can be healthy in one minute and incapacitated in the other. It could be due to a sudden illness or an accident that leaves you with limited bodily functions and unable to make decisions on matters that affect you.
Picture yourself in a coma or on life support. If you need surgery, who will consent to it? Also, who will manage your financial affairs in your absence? Family members do not automatically have a right to step in your shoes and make some of these decisions, which is why having a power of attorney is important.
How a power of attorney works
Simplified, a power of attorney lets you appoint someone and give them legal authority to act on your behalf upon incapacitation, but not after your death. In the scenarios above, you can have a medical power of attorney to make healthcare decisions on your behalf and a financial power of attorney to handle your finances.
You can also specify when the person you appoint (your agent) can begin acting on your behalf – immediately or if you become incapacitated. It is also worth noting that your agent owes you a fiduciary duty and must always act in your best interests.
Getting started with a power of attorney
Planning for unforeseen eventualities should be part and parcel of your estate plans, something a power of attorney can help with. You will also avoid uncertainty or confusion among your family members on who should act on your behalf and when you get incapacitated.
Learning more about how powers of attorney work and seeking informed guidance when you have any questions or concerns will go a long way in protecting your interests.