Estate planning should go beyond leaving assets to family members and beneficiaries. It’s not just a financial process, although that is important. Estate planning can also be used for medical and legal decisions.
One way to address this is by using a legal power of attorney or a medical power of attorney. Either way, the goal of the power of attorney is to establish a third party as your agent. When a decision needs to be made in that area, they have the legal ability to make the decision.
Future medical choices
One key part of using a power of attorney is understanding that it only springs into action if the person who made it becomes incapacitated. Their legal rights to make their own decisions still exist, even after the paperwork has been drafted, unless incapacitation can be shown.
So a good example of how this works is with medical decisions. A person may be able to make all their own medical decisions at the present time, but they may be worried about a diagnosis in the future. What if they are diagnosed with a cognitive disease or a brain disorder? What if they suffer unexpected traumatic injuries in a car accident?
When these things happen, the individual may no longer be able to make their own decisions. That is when the power of attorney kicks in. The agent can then work with their doctors and other members of their medical team to ensure that they get proper care.
Above all else, estate planning is about the future. Those who are making an estate plan need to consider a power of attorney along with all other legal documents that they can use to get this plan in place.