Power of Attorney
When clients think about estate planning, they usually focus on their Will and what happens to their assets when they pass. But, an equally important task is to consider what happens to their finances if they are incapacitated during their lifetimes. For example, what if they are diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s? Similarly, who will speak on their behalf if they can’t tell their doctor what kind of medical treatments they want to undergo or avoid? As part of their plan, we provide two different documents to address this: a Financial Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney. In both, the client names an Agent to act on their behalf. If married, usually their spouse is designated. An alternate Agent is also named in case their first choice can’t act. The Financial Power of Attorney gives the Agent broad powers, including the power to access accounts, sell or borrow against assets, continue their pattern of gift giving and the like. It can be made effective upon signing or only when a doctor signs a statement that they are unable to manage their affairs. The Health Care Power of Attorney allows the Agent to provide informed consent to treatment. It also works hand in hand with a Health Care Directive to implement the client’s wishes to avoid heroic measures. In addition, it gives the Agent the right to talk to the doctor and access health care information about the client so that the Agent can make informed decisions.