Many people think of an estate plan as just something that helps to organize your affairs after you pass away. However, that is only a part of the bigger picture, and a complete estate plan should include measures like a power of attorney to help you while you are still alive. But why, exactly, should your estate plan include a power of attorney?
What is a Power of Attorney?
Put simply, a power of attorney is a type of legal arrangement that gives someone else the ability to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney may be tailored in a number of ways to fit your specific needs, including making it either temporary or durable (meaning it lasts indefinitely). It can be made to only become effective when you actual become incapacitated. It is commonly put into place along with other documents known as advance directives, such as a healthcare proxy or living will, which can ensure your needs are cared for and your wishes are implemented.
Why Might You Need a Power of Attorney?
It is commonly used as a tool to help protect elderly people who may not be able to handle their own personal affairs as they get older. This is because someone granted your power of attorney has the ability to do things like pay your bills, manage your finances, and sign legal documents on your behalf. They can also go to court to enforce your legal rights and protect your interests, if necessary.
What Happens if You Do Not Have a Power of Attorney?
If you do not have a power of attorney and become incapacitated, whether due to illness, injury, or some other issue, a legal proceeding will need to be commenced to have a court to appoint a legal guardian to manage your affairs. This guardian will not be chosen by you, and may not be someone you like or trust, or even necessarily someone you personally know. If this happens, your fate will be taken entirely out of your hands, which can put you in a precarious position.
What Should You Do?
If you are looking to create an estate plan, or you are interested in updating an existing estate plan, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling elder law and estate matters. They can help you arrange a power of attorney, or any other estate planning instruments that can be used to protect your interests. The sooner you call, the sooner they can get to work on your behalf.
The Virdone Law Firm is here to assist Long Island families with all of their family law, elder law, and estate matters. We pride ourselves on providing unparalleled legal representation with a foundation in personalized client service. To learn more or schedule a consultation at our Westbury office, give us a call at (516) 570 - 3875, or visit our contact page.