There may come a time when you will need to do something important, like pay your mortgage or make a critical medical decision, but you’ll be unable to do so. There are legal documents that allow you to name others to act for you if this happens. These documents not only will save you from a bad situation you can’t control but will prevent your family from having to scramble to try to solve the problem.
Powers of attorney are documents that show you’ve given permission to others to make financial and medical decisions for you. An advanced medical directive also allows you to name another person to make medical decisions for you in case you’re terminally ill or in a vegetative state and unable to make those decisions yourself.
Financial Powers of Attorney
Financial powers of attorney can be of critical importance in case of a medical emergency, either due to an illness or accident, which prevents you from handling your financial affairs. Even if you’re married unless your spouse’s name is on your accounts those resources will be out of reach. If you’re involved in an auto accident or suffer a heart attack and are incapacitated while your mortgage, rent, or taxes are due, who will pay them for you?
A financial power of attorney can address those situations if you plan ahead and have it place before that accident or heart attack happens. It can be limited to paying certain bills through a checking account or be very broad and cover all your financial resources, assets, and expenses. With a financial power of attorney in place, your family may not need to go through the time, energy, and expense of having a conservator appointed to handle your financial affairs for you.
Medical Powers of Attorney
A medical power of attorney is similar but it covers medical, not financial issues. It allows you to name another to make medical decisions for you in case you can’t make them yourself. This person can make these choices only if you are incapacitated. If you have a medical power of attorney in effect your family may also be able to avoid the need to have a guardian named for you.
In a medical power of attorney, you can list what kind of medical care you want, or don’t want, if you can’t speak for yourself. This can help you avoid a prolonged delay in care while your healthcare providers to try to find your next of kin to make decisions.
Advanced Medical Directive
An advanced medical directive is similar to a medical power of attorney but it only applies to those who are terminally ill or in a vegetative state. If a doctor determines that there is no medically reasonable hope for recovery this document would guide your treatment. In it you can state whether you want “life-prolonging procedures.”
These are treatments that won’t cure a terminal condition. They include providing hydration (water) and nutrition by tubes, machines that breathe for you, and other medical and surgical treatments. You can also state you want particular life-prolonging procedures but not others.
Powers of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directives Attorneys
In powers of attorney, the person you name to make decisions is an agent. For an advanced healthcare directive, this person is an agent or proxy. No matter the document used you must choose the right person for the job. You are entrusting your finances and/or health with this person. He or she must be honest, trustworthy, and responsible.
Cravens & Noll is here to help those in Central and Western Virginia with creating powers of attorney and advanced medical directives. If you or your family have any questions about them or want them created schedule an initial consultation today.