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Why people can benefit from adding powers of attorney to estate plans

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Estate Planning & Probate |

Many people never bother to create an estate plan at all. Those who do often take a very simplistic approach to the process. They might draft a will and nothing else. While having some documents in place is better than having no plan at all, a more comprehensive and robust estate plan offers more protection than an overly simple one. People sometimes create and fund trusts. They may also create documents that have authority while they are alive, not after their death.

Powers of attorney are living documents that protect those facing emergencies or coping with chronic health conditions. The following are some of the benefits of adding power of attorney paperwork to an estate plan.

Protection in an emergency

People never know when they might get into a car crash that puts them in a coma or suffer a brain injury because of an assault. Powers of attorney provide a layer of protection for those facing unexpected medical hardship. They can authorize someone to handle their medical or financial affairs when they are unconscious or otherwise lack the capacity necessary to take care of themselves.

Protection from long-term medical challenges

Many of the people who add powers of attorney to their estate plans do so because they deal with severe or chronic medical conditions. Someone with a condition that flares up sporadically may never know when they need to go to the hospital and might require someone to manage their affairs.

Protection from guardianship

Provided that someone creates durable powers of attorney, their documents can designate someone they trust to act as their attorney-in-fact in an emergency. An attorney-in-fact or agent can serve the same role that a guardian might without the unpredictable nature of guardianship proceedings. Medically vulnerable and elderly people never know who might try to seek authority over their daily lives and financial resources. Durable powers of attorney help ensure that someone they trust has authority when they cannot manage their own affairs.

Although many people never need their powers of attorney, they may derive great peace of mind from knowing that they have an agent to handle financial or medical matters if they experience some kind of incapacitating incident. Drafting powers of attorney can be a smart estate planning move. Even those who have already drafted basic documents might want to expand their estate plans to include powers of attorney.