No one likes to think about a possible time in life when they might be incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions. But, the reality is that the old saying is right – “accidents happen.” If something happens in your life and, even temporarily, you are unable to make important healthcare or financial decisions, you need to be prepared.
Power of attorney
That is where power of attorney documents come into play. These types of documents should be a part of any comprehensive estate plan. The most common type of power of attorney document that most people think about when they are planning their estate plans is one for financial decisions. In this document, the planner can designate another person – the “attorney in fact” – who is or will be empowered to make financial decisions if and when the planner is unable to do so. The “attorney in fact” doesn’t have to be an actual attorney.
Power of attorney documents to cover healthcare decisions are another matter and, in many states, these documents go by different names. In New York, they are commonly referred to as “healthcare proxies.” In this type of document, a person can be appointed to make important healthcare decisions on the planner’s behalf if, again, the planner is unable to make those decisions.
The right documents for you
When it comes to power of attorney documents, you need to be sure you are picking the right person for the job. Your healthcare and your finances are obviously important aspects of your life – be sure to entrust decisions about those areas to individuals who know your wishes.