A power of attorney (POA), sometimes called a durable power of attorney or a health care proxy, is a specific type of advance directive that names an individual to make decisions on your behalf—in all matters, or specified matters—in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. That person might be a spouse, adult child, other relative, or friend. You may also select an alternate in the event the person you choose is unable to fulfill his or her duties as designated in your power of attorney.
Though age and retirement are the most common reasons people decide to set up a power of attorney, there are many other circumstances in which a POA might be necessary for anyone over age 18. For example, military personnel should create a POA before deploying overseas so someone can act on their behalf should they become incapacitated during deployment. Even adults who travel frequently should consider setting up a POA so someone else could handle their affairs in their absence.
What happens if you don’t have a POA?
Without a power of attorney, a court will have to appoint a guardian or conservator over your affairs in the event you are not able to make decisions for yourself. Your loved ones will have no say over who is appointed. Without a POA set in place, the process of managing your affairs will become far more complicated.
I have a will, so why do I need a POA?
A power of attorney and a will are not the same. A will designates the distribution of your property and assets after your death. A POA helps to direct financial and health decisions you need to be made but are unable to make for yourself.
To whom should I give power of attorney ?
When choosing someone to authorize with power of attorney to act on your affairs, choose someone who:
• Meets your state’s requirements for power of attorney.
• Is not a member of your health care team.
• Is willing to discuss your medical and end-of-life wishes with you.
• Is trusted to make decisions based on your preferences and values.
• Can serve as an advocate on your behalf in the event that there are disagreements about your medical care or financial affairs.
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