We live in a country where the utmost importance is placed on our individual rights and freedoms to make choices that affect us. As long as we don’t set out to harm others, we are free to have control over ourselves—both physically and financially. So, what happens when medically speaking we can’t make decisions for ourselves? This is called incapacity. When you are legally declared as incapacitated, you cannot take care of your own affairs and need someone appointed to do that for you. This can happen by having Powers of Attorney drafted ahead of time, or you can let the government decide for you. It’s important to know how that can affect you, but first, let’s make the distinction between your financial matters and your health matters.

Power of Attorney for Personal CareYour personal care decisions revolve around what medical treatments will be undertaken on you, or any decision involving your physical care. These decisions are often sensitive and particular, and if you haven’t created a legal Power of Attorney for Personal Care to appoint someone (or multiple people) to make specific decisions for you, the law will dictate who can. What happens if those aren’t the people you want to make those choices?

Having a Power of Attorney for Personal Care drafted while you have the capacity to make your own decisions means you can pick exactly what treatment you want, when you want it, how you want it, and who will make those decisions. Not to mention some old age homes or residences that provide medical supervision require this document before they admit a new resident. It’s always a good idea to be well prepared to ensure that you will have the best treatment when you are most vulnerable.

Continuing Power of Attorney for PropertyUnlike healthcare decisions, there is no law which automatically dictates who is entitled to take care of our financial affairs if we lose capacity. If you lose the capacity to handle your affairs personally, without a legal document giving someone that authority, banks will refuse to allow anyone to operate bank accounts held in your name solely and you won’t be able to sell any real estate you own either. The results can be devastating.

A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property is a document you can create ahead of time to ensure that if that ever happens, you have someone, or some people, in charge to legally take control over your matters. This means your bills can be paid, your assets can be managed and your finances can be handled in a way to ensure you are taken care of, and your family is taken care of. Without one, you may be subjected to a much costlier and time-consuming process to have the government appoint someone for you. Sometimes the process involves legal battles to have the Court decide who is best, leaving conflict and emotional scars in its wake.

By signing your Powers of Attorneys while capable, you decide who makes decisions for you. A tailored document can restrict the power granted or leave specific instructions for what you want done. Not only does this document give you peace of mind, but it can always be revoked or ended while you are capable—giving you the freedom you want, when you want it.

If you don’t know how to get started, contact our offices and we’ll be happy to help!