There are ways to manage what happens to you in the event you are not well enough to make your own decisions. A Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person to manage your financial affairs, a Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint a person to make medical decisions for you and a Living Will makes known your wishes regarding life-prolonging medical treatments.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you give another person legal authority to act for you. There are many uses for a power of attorney, from giving your spouse the authority to sell your apartment to giving your child the authority to take over financial decisions in the event you become incapacitated.
For your agent, you will select someone you trust, like your child or spouse. A revocable power of attorney makes sure that you can change your agent at any time.
If you do not have a power of attorney, your family might have no choice but to ask the court to appoint a guardian to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf. This procedure can be expensive and time-consuming and may result in the court appointing someone that you might not have wanted to make financial decisions on your behalf.
There are three basic types of Power of Attorney which we use for estate planning purposes.
- Limited Power of Attorney
- The Limited Power of Attorney allows you to authorize another person to act as your agent for a limited period in time or for specific circumstances only. For example, to make someone an agent for a specific transaction, or only until you recover from an illness.
- Durable Power of Attorney
- The Durable Power of Attorney authorizes your agent to continue to act on your behalf after you become incapacitated. This document takes effect as soon as you sign it.
- Springing Power of Attorney
- A Springing Power of Attorney goes into effect only if you become incapacitated. It’s up to you to define how incapacitated you need to be for the Power of Attorney to go into effect.
The Living Will determines what life-sustaining measures if any, you wish to be taken in case you will not be able to direct the doctors. For example, do you want to leave a do not resuscitate (DNR) instruction? Does your religion dictate a preference? What do you want to happen to your organs? These and many other issues are addressed in your living will.
The Health Proxy is a document that specifies the person that you would like to make health decisions for you when you are not able to do so yourself.
Call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233 and make an appointment to discuss your estate planning needs.