Including a power of attorney or medical agent in your estate plan may make it easier to manage your affairs and make healthcare decisions as you wish if you become incapacitated.
Choosing an agent
Anyone who is a legal adult and of sound mind can serve as your agent. This means you could look to an adult son or daughter, a friend or colleague you trust to serve in that role. However, if you don’t have anyone who you trust to manage your money or your medical decisions, it may be possible to hire a professional to serve as your agent.
An agent’s powers can be broad or narrow
Your financial agent may be granted full power to manage your money or assets or oversee the sale or transfer of your assets. Conversely, you could limit your agent’s powers to paying bills while, for instance, you are in a coma or recovering from knee surgery. If necessary, you can change the scope of an agent’s authority after a power of attorney document has been executed.
If you don’t have an agent
If you don’t have an agent as part of your estate plan, a judge may appoint one if you become incapacitated. This means that someone who you wouldn’t otherwise select could have access to your bank account or make medical decisions on your behalf. The same may be true if the person named in your estate plan is no longer willing or able to help you.
Creating a comprehensive estate plan that includes a power of attorney may make it easier to ensure that your wishes are carried out promptly. It may also eliminate confusion that might lead to conflicts between family members.