Estate planning process is different for every individual, as your personal situation creates unique needs. Many people focus primarily on providing for dependent family members in their estate plans. They set aside property for their children and spouses and then name guardians for those who depend on them.
Fewer adults add protections in their estate plans for themselves. However, estate planning can include documents that take effect not when you die but if you ever experience a personal emergency. Powers of attorney are some of the most important documents to have in place before something happens to you.
Why would you want to draft documents that give others authority over parts of your life?
You won’t have to worry about guardianship
If you suffer a brain injury in a near-drowning or develop dementia as you age, members of your family or even professional caregivers could go to the probate courts and claim that you need a guardian.
By the time there is reason to question your testamentary capacity, it is too late for you to create documents authorizing others to handle your care or finances. By creating powers of attorney now, you can potentially protect yourself from a guardianship later.
You won’t be at risk of losing your biggest assets
If you get hit by a car while jogging and spend three months in a coma, there may not be anyone with the legal access to pay your utility bills and mortgage during your incapacitation. Powers of attorney allow you to designate someone you know and trust to assume authority over your finances or just access certain accounts so that you don’t lose your assets or fall out of financial compliance during an emergency.
You have more say in the care that you receive
If you are not in a position to speak for yourself, the medical treatment you receive will completely depend on what others decide for you. Creating a medical power of attorney gives you an opportunity to name someone you trust to make those decisions. You can also include advance directives that instruct them about the care you prefer to receive.
Adding powers of attorney to your estate plan now can protect you if something unpredictable leaves you medically vulnerable in the future.