What is a power of attorney in an estate plan?

While many people think about trusts and wills as the only components of estate planning, there’s much more to it. Part of having a comprehensive estate plan is getting a plan set up to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated.

One critical component of your estate plan is the power of attorney designation. There are actually two of these that you have to think about.

Power of attorney for healthcare

Someone needs to make decisions for your medical care if you can’t make those yourself. Choose a person who you know will follow your wishes. The person who has power of attorney for healthcare will work with your medical care team to make those decisions. You can also write out your advanced directives to provide everyone with a written account of your wishes. The power of attorney will make decisions not covered by that document.

Power of attorney for finances

You should give your financial power of attorney designation to someone you know will handle your money and assets responsibly. They can pay bills for you, but they can also buy or sell assets for you. The person should make decisions based on what you’d want and not do anything self-serving.

Anyone creating an estate plan should remember that some of the plan’s components are meant to help ensure things are taken care of before you pass away. Getting everything together for that period of your life, as well as after your death, can help to take the pressure off your loved ones. Working with someone who understands your goals and helps you find legal avenues to make those attainable is critical during the estate planning process.

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