How can a power of attorney affect your estate planning?

During the sunset years, your health becomes unpredictable. The risk of developing dementia and other incapacitating health conditions increases as the years tick away. If you haven’t granted a power of attorney to someone yet, it’s crucial to do so now. 

Nominating a power of attorney helps protect your estate and your beneficiaries’ interests should you become incapacitated. This is usually a written document, witnessed and notarized, giving authority to another person to act on your behalf in the event you are not in a position to make decisions.

Why is granting power of attorney necessary?

If you become incapacitated without granting a power of attorney to someone, estate decisions will pend until the court appoints a guardian. Like any other court process, appointing a guardian is a lengthy process, and the delay may hoard up your estate affairs.

Again, you have no say over who the court may appoint to act on your behalf. Hence, this is not a foolproof option. That’s why it’s essential to prepare in advance on who should make estate decisions on your behalf should anything happen to you. 

Whom should you nominate as a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a sensitive responsibility. Hence, it’s crucial to appoint someone you trust will act in your best interests. This could be an adult child or children, spouse, sibling, a close friend or any other close relative. 

In case you wish to appoint several children, it’s always advisable to have one as the primary agent and others to act as alternate agents. This can help shorten the process in cases where quick decisions are required.

Sometimes you may fall out with someone whom you had already granted a power of attorney. In such a case, the law allows you to revoke it and appoint another agent. 

Which type of power of attorney is best in your estate planning?

Usually, there are three main types of powers of attorney – the durable power of attorney, a non-durable power of attorney and the springing power of attorney. Unlike the durable and springing power of attorney, a non-durable power of attorney is automatically annulled if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. Hence, this may not be your best choice on estate planning matters as the courts will have to appoint a guardian to act on your behalf.

A durable power of attorney may be your best choice as it remains effective even after you become incapacitated. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your estate will be managed by someone you trust should something happen to you. 

Springing durable power of attorney is also another great option. As the name suggests, the agent’s authority springs into effect if you become incapacitated or disabled. However, you should define what constitutes incapacity or disability.

No matter the type of attorney you choose, you should inform the agents and keep the power of attorney document where they can access it for quick execution. On the same note, you should notify the agents immediately should you revoke their powers with a new appointment.  

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