A power of attorney is an estate planning document that gives power to someone else to make decisions for you.
For instance, you could set up a financial or legal power of attorney if you need to allow someone to do things like accessing bank accounts, paying bills, paying taxes and much more. You could also use a medical power of attorney. This gives your agent the ability to make medical decisions, such as deciding what type of treatment you should receive or if the doctors should use life-support.
These are very beneficial documents because they help you plan in advance for unexpected illnesses or injuries. But as soon as you draft the document, does that mean that your agent automatically gets to make decisions for you? Is it too risky to give someone else this type of power over you?
You must be incapacitated
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about signing away your decision-making power. The other person only gets to make those decisions if you’ve become incapacitated. This is when the power of attorney kicks in. Prior to that, you still have full autonomy to make your own choices.
There can be various types of incapacitation. An example could be a severe mental decline due to Alzheimer’s or dementia. Another example could be finding yourself in a coma after a stroke or a head injury.
But either way, if you take the time to consider all of your legal options and set up the proper paperwork in advance, you know that you have the right person in position to make these decisions when needed.