Take a moment and think about what could happen if you were to suddenly become physically or mentally unable to handle your affairs. Young, old, single, married, in a committed relationship or not: the fact is unless you have certain documents in place, your financial and health well being could be in limbo. PDS urges everyone to have the following documents created, executed, and ready should they be needed.
- Durable Power of Attorney, sometimes called a financial power of attorney. This designates someone to act on your behalf should you be unable to pay bills and make other financial decisions. This allows your designee access to bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and retirement accounts (the latter only if specifically stated in the document), and the authority to make deposits, withdrawals, and pay bills, and allow access to any safe deposit boxes.
- Health Care Power of Attorney, also called a Health Care Directive or Medical Power of Attorney. This document allows your designee the authority to make health care decisions. In some states, this can be what is called a Springing Power of Attorney that takes effect only after your incapacity.
If you do not have these two documents, think of the problems that could arise should you become unable to handle your financial affairs or make health care decisions by yourself. How will your ongoing bills be paid? Who will respond to doctors and health care providers on your behalf? The time and money to have the courts make a ruling could be significant, and that does not ensure it is consistent with your wishes.
Both documents are easily created by your attorney, or you may find them online, specifically for the state in which you live. Generally, your spouse would be named as POA if you are married. If you are single, a parent, relative, or close friend are often selected. Remember the person you name will have broad powers, so be sure it is someone you trust. And be sure you provide a copy of the documents to the person you have named as POA.
Tragedies happen all the time. They are seldom anticipated. We have had clients who have spent money getting these documents created, but have never signed them. This is a huge mistake! Take action today to make sure you live your life on your own terms. After all, It’s your life, plan for it.