A power of attorney is a powerful legal document that protects you, requires careful consideration and a healthy dose of trust. You want to choose wisely, but you also don’t want anyone to challenge your final wishes. There are several powers of attorney, each with its own role and purpose. The legal documents protect you and your family, even if you’re incapacitated.
Review Your Estate Plan
If you haven’t explored the many benefits of an estate plan, it’s always a good time. If you do have an estate plan, a routine look through your documents might reveal any vulnerabilities or changes you need to make. Among those important changes are those associated with your powers of attorney. Typically, clients will have a financial power of attorney, which names someone to oversee your finances in the case of your incapacitation or death. This person is one you trust to ensure your mortgage is paid, taxes are paid, deposits are made, etc. Remember though, this is the person who can also sell your home, change or in some instances, even cash out your retirement accounts, bank accounts and anything else associated with your finances.
Don’t underestimate the power in the details and accuracy For many, the last thing they want is for a new spouse to realize too late that a former spouse is still listed on important estate planning documents. Life changes on a dime and it’s important to ensure your planning reflects those changes.
Many people name more than one power of attorney, especially between the finances and medical decisions. The person you select a medical power of attorney might not be the best choice for a financial power of attorney.
Medical Power of Attorney
We’ve all heard about HIPAA and the massive changes it brought with it. Administered and enforced via The Office for Civil Rights, this law was designed to protect the privacy of individually identifiable health information. The HIPAA Security Rule is what sets the standards – on a national level – for the security of electronic protected health information. It also addresses the confidentiality issues associated with the Patient Safety Rule.
By putting the necessary paperwork in place, including naming a power of attorney to make important medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so, you’re protecting yourself and your family. One small error can be enough to result in a hospital. Erring on the side of caution and with steep (and increasing) fines that high, you can be sure it’s a top priority.
A living will spells out your preferences about certain kinds of life-sustaining treatments. For instance, you can indicate whether you do or do not want interventions such as cardiac resuscitation, a feeding tube or any kind of mechanical respiration.
Finally, keeping your estate planning attorney in the loop can go a long way in avoiding big problems. It’s our job to catch those errors so that they don’t become headaches in the future. To learn more about powers of attorney, contact your estate planning lawyer today.