Sh** happens. The better prepared you are for the unforeseen, the more you are able to minimize the associated risks and/or damages to yourself and others. Power of attorney documents are important estate planning tools, whereby you elect someone else to essentially step in your place and be you and perform tasks on your behalf that you are personally unable to do yourself. Let’s look at the two main types briefly below:
Durable Power of Attorney for Finances – this document designates a person to act on your behalf with regard to finances. This power can be present, allowing the agent to act for you immediately, or it can be a springing power, that doesn’t go into effect until you become incapacitated. Your document will outline what acts your agent is permitted to take on your behalf, but it usually encompasses all financial transactions that you can make for yourself (e.g. write checks, withdraw funds from an account, transfer real estate, access financial documents, etc.)
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare – this document appoints someone else to make medical decisions in the event you are unable to make them yourself. So, think emergent situation, like a car accident and you’re unconscious. The medical staff at the nearest hospital has no history with you, and even if they did, they still might not know which course of action you would want to take. The healthcare proxy is perfect for these situations, because if you have one, you’ve appointed someone to represent you in the case of a medical emergency. This person presumably knows how you would act, as you previously discussed this with them, and to the extent they did not know, the document would act as their guide.
There are other estate planning tools, especially in the medical context, that you would want to employ (i.e. living will, HIPPA releases, etc.), but at a bare minimum, the durable power of attorneys for healthcare and for finances should be implemented.
Consult an attorney and have these documents drafted right away.
Lerae Funderburg, Esq. is the Managing Attorney at Funderburg Law, LLC, an Atlanta based law firm focusing on entertainment business transactions and estate planning. As a lawyer and blogger, Lerae keeps her viewers and subscribers up to date with legal news, especially in the areas of estate planning, business, music, copyright law and trademark law. If you are local to Atlanta, call and set up a consultation! She would love to hear from you!