Advance Medical Directives & Powers of Attorney
If you become sick or disabled, do you know whether there is someone who can take care of your personal and financial needs in your absence? If you already have an up-to-date advance medical directive and power of attorney, good for you! If not, read on.
Unlike a will, advance medical directives and powers of attorney take effect while you are still alive. However, circumstances may render us incapable of handling our affairs, and that’s why it’s important to have these documents.
An advance medical directive (sometimes called a “living will”) designates a person or people to make health care choices for you in the event you are too incapacitated to give informed consent. By documenting in writing your values and intentions about the type of care you wish to have and whom you want making those important decisions on your behalf, you can be assured that you will receive the care you want even though you are unable to arrange it for yourself.
Similarly, a power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to have authority over your finances and/or assets so that your bills, etc. will get taken care of in spite of your disability. You can give this person as much or as little control over your money and property as you see fit. So long as you appoint a trustworthy individual, your lack of health will not impair the ability of making sure your family and your finances are able to carry on.
These two documents are very powerful forms of “legal insurance.” We hope we don’t need them, but they come in very handy if we ever do. Without them, your family might need to involve the courts which is time-consuming and expensive. With them, life goes on relatively seamlessly.