The fear of getting older is met with the fear of being unable to make decisions for yourself. As you get older, this fear can feel more and more possible.
However, even though the inability to make your own decisions may occur, it does not necessarily mean that your wishes will not be realized, nor does it mean that your life is over. In fact, making your wishes known and having a plan in place may just save your life.
In order to form that plan, you will require the assistance of an elder law and estate planning attorney who understands the legal complexities of planning for an uncertain future. They will assist you in creating the necessary documents required to secure your future, including a Power of Attorney.
Navigating a Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney document is a written authorization that allows you, as the named principal, to formally appoint a trusted individual to make decisions and take actions on your behalf. Whomever you name will be able to represent your best interests, whether that is on a temporary or permanent basis.
The individual that you name is designated as your agent, or “attorney-in-fact” within the scope of the agreement. They are expected to make informed, good-faith decisions regarding issues like business transactions, insurance policies, health care options, tax returns, or other legal, health, or financial matters, depending on the type of Power of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney may be limited and give someone the right to sign a deed to the property on a day when you are out of town or sign checks for you. A general Power of Attorney is comprehensive and gives your attorney-in-fact all the powers and rights that you have, regarding your own person.
A Power of Attorney can be “springing,” meaning the document can be written so that it does not become effective until you are incapacitated, according to the outlined standard of incapacity detailed in the document.
The details and scope of a Power of Attorney are critical in determining the function of the document. You get to decide whether the power is relegated to one particular issue or encompasses a wide range of areas.
Another popular type is a Durable Power of Attorney, which seamlessly remains in effect if you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
Health care options
The health issues that you can run into when you are older make it necessary to outline the type of care that you wish to receive, and as an advance directive, a health care Power of Attorney outlines the types of treatment that you do and do not wish to receive.
You need to be able to trust your attorney-in-fact to make decisions that reflect your wishes. This does not solely mean detailing what type of care you wish to receive in your documents, but also discussing what your wishes may be while you can.
Having the hard conversations
Having difficult conversations regarding incapacitation and life-threatening health concerns are never easy, but they are a necessary component in ensuring that your wishes are known.
Additionally, with various forms of treatment available to those facing health scares, there may be one that you prefer. Without discussing it or outlining it outright in your health care Power of Attorney documents, you may not receive the treatment that you desire, given your incapacitated state.
This requires making sure that the person that you name as your attorney-in-fact is someone open-minded and willing to honor your wishes. They need to be able to trust the medical staff and their ability to treat any type of disease or ailment, according to method that you have detailed in your documents in your conversations.
By having these estate planning documents in place regarding your medical care and who is making the necessary decisions, you can rest easier knowing that in the face of an uncertain future, you have a plan in place that honors your requests and has the potential of saving your life.