Advance Directives Clarify Your Wishes In Case Of Incapacity
We live in uncertain times. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for tragedy to strike, but when it does you are going to want to have people you trust to help you through these difficult moments. A simple and common document to allow these trusted people to help you is a called a power of attorney.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document, authorizing an individual (the agent) to work on behalf of another individual (the principle). The principle shares his or her power with the agent, allowing the agent to assist in managing the principle’s financial and/or private affairs. The existence of a POA document in your estate plan is crucial, as it denotes who you trust you take care of you and your assets in the event that you are unable to do so. Without a POA document in place, you are at the mercy of the courts to choose guardian who makes the decisions such as where you live, how your assets are spent, and whether you live or die. It is important to ensure a trusted individual of yourchoice is appointed as your POA.
Further, establishing guardianship or conservatorship can be an expensive process, requiring court appearances and ongoing legal guidance. Often, guardianship can be avoided with advance planning. If a person establishes durable powers of attorney while they are still of sound mind, the issue of who is legally authorized to make decisions on their behalf is already established.
The lawyers at Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C., will guide you through this process as part of creating a comprehensive estate plan. We work with clients throughout Wisconsin from offices in Green Bay and Appleton.
Healthcare Power of Attorney vs. Financial Power of Attorney
A financial attorney is a trusted individual you appoint to oversee your finances in the event that you become incapacitated. This individual will act on your behalf in order to manage your financial matters. The agent might carry payment of your bills for example, and oversee your bank accounts. You may give a financial power of attorney as much authority over your finances as you please. When appointing your agent, it is important to ensure they have significant life experience, to avoid poor financial decisions.
A medical power of attorney is similar to a healthcare power of attorney, as both agents oversee decisions regarding your affairs. A medical power attorney however, makes medical decisions on your behalf, going into effect when you can no longer make healthcare decisions for yourself. Individuals harbor strong and varying opinions on the healthcare treatment they prefer. This is why it is paramount to carefully choose an agent who would make decisions similar to those you would make.
Plan Ahead So Your Loved Ones Aren’t Left Guessing
If you suffer a medical setback and become comatose, your spouse, children or other loved ones may struggle to make decisions about what medical steps to take to keep you alive. You may have definite thoughts on what end-of-life medical care you want taken, but unless they are spelled out in legal documents, following your decisions may not be possible.
If you do not establish a health care directive and designate someone to have durable power of attorney for financial decisions, your loved ones may have to navigate complex legal proceedings to accomplish basic tasks on your behalf. Putting these documents in place assures that your loved ones will have clear directions on your wishes, so they can make decisions easily and with a clear conscience.
We Are Ready To Make Your Wishes Official
We welcome the opportunity to help you create advance directives or review existing documents that may need to be updated. Call 920-831-0300 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.