Who Should Be Your Power of Attorney?
Not all wills are for after you’ve passed away. Living wills are for when you’re alive and need someone else to make decisions for you because you’re incapacitated. Living wills can also be called advanced directives. They have instructions from you on how you want your medical care and finances to be handled. They can also have what is called your power of attorney, or someone designated to make decisions on your behalf.
Incapacitation is when you’re in a comatose or vegetative state where you can’t speak for yourself on what treatment you want or what you want for your belongings. The other situation where someone would use their living will and power of attorney would be if they become mentally ill or handicapped due to an injury or disease. This is a state where you can technically communicate, but cannot communicate honestly or clearly. When you’re in this state, your stated desires are put into doubt, so your loved ones and your medical professionals would use your living will.
Its difficult for a living will to cover each and every situation that can incapacitate you or happen to you while you are incapacitated. For this reason, you have a power of attorney. Who you pick to be your power of attorney is important. Contact the estate planning attorneys at Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano for help finding your power of attorney.
Types of Power of Attorney
There are two types of power of attorney that separate what aspect of your life they can make decisions over. Other types decide when someone has power of attorney.
Here, we’re focusing on Health Power of Attorney (HPOA) and Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA). HPOA is where the power of attorney is given to someone you trust to make medical decisions for your health. FPOA is where the power of attorney is given to someone you trust to make decisions about your property, which includes your bills, expenses, retirement benefits, selling and renting your estate, and filing your taxes. We’re detailing what characteristics are good for which type.
Who Should Be Your Power of Attorney?
Technically, anyone 18 or older and not incapacitated can be your power of attorney. Just because someone can, doesn’t mean they should, though, so here are characteristics to consider.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but trust is one of the first things people can miss with their power of attorney selection. Yes, you trust your mother, but would your mother allow or make the decision to turn off life-support after the amount of time you decided, or will she leave it on well past when you would have wanted? The same can be said for a spouse, most friends, or another family member. Make sure this is someone you trust to respect your beliefs and decisions.
While technically you want someone you trust for your HPOA and FPOA, the level of trust required is different for HPOA. FPOA requires trust in their ability. The person needs to be capable of caring for your accounts and estates, which necessitates a different kind of trust.
You don’t want to pick a power of attorney who’s too far away from wherever you’re being cared for. If something happens and they can’t be reached, that can mean the difference between following your wishes and not. Sometimes that is the difference between life and death.
While it should be preferred that your FPOA is close to you and/or your property, it’s not necessary. With your property documents, tax information, and rights to your estate, one could conceivably and properly care for your estate without being close.
You don’t want someone who won’t stick up for your wishes. It’s not unrealistic for a loved one to disagree with the medical care you asked for, and seek to overrule it. You need your power of attorney to be someone who will stick up for you, and fight for your intentions. You’re giving this person power that is to be used, and if it isn’t, it’s pointless.
The same can be said for your property. This person should make sure your property is taken care of, along with your accounts and taxes. Should you recover, you should have something to recover to.
Knowledge of You
This is someone who you are also trusting to interpret your living will. There may be a situation your living will doesn’t cover. In this instance, your power of attorney should be able to interpret your living will and your situation to best decide what you would have wanted. To do this, they have to be knowledgeable of you. This is true for both your HPOA and your FPOA.
Contact Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano
The best way to make sure you pick the best HPOA and FPOA is to go over it with an estate planning attorney. We can best test you on whether or not this is the best option for you, and if you can trust those you want as your powers of attorney and as backups. We’ll also help you create the living will that will guide your HPOA and FPOA in case something happens to you. Contact the estate planning attorneys at Mazzoni Karam Petorak and Valvano today.