Estate planning is not just about planning for your death; it is also about planning for your potential incapacity and/or disability. This is where a Statutory Form Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney come in. When these documents are not executed and you are unable to make financial and/or medical decisions for yourself, someone would need to get guardianship (a formal court process) in order to help you. To avoid this, everyone should execute these two types of Powers of Attorney.
A Statutory Form Power of Attorney gives someone (your “agent”) broad powers to act on your behalf and make financial and business decisions for you if you are unable to make these decisions, including signing your checks to pay your bills. An agent handles your financial matters, including your money, contracts and property. A Statutory Form Power of Attorney explicitly grants the agent general and specific powers so that an agent may know exactly what they have the authority to do on your behalf.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney is important to have should you become mentally or physically unable to make or communicate decisions about your healthcare. Like a Statutory Form Power of Attorney, this document appoints an agent and empowers the agent to request, receive and review your medical information. It also gives the agent the authority to speak for you and make medical and end-of-life care decisions on your behalf. This document details your values and allows you to express your medical care preferences so that you may avoid unwanted treatments. Additionally, by providing specific instructions, your agent will know how you would make certain decisions were you able to communicate them and ensure that your wishes are carried out.
For these reasons, everyone should have a Statutory Form Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney in place.