With each new year, we make promises to do things better, to be healthier, to work less and enjoy life more…all worthwhile goals. This year, though, why not take steps to protect your financial future too?
Having a will is smart, as is setting up a trust for future generations, because both protect your assets upon your death. But another document can protect you in life – a Healthcare Power of Attorney – and talking with a knowledgeable lawyer about it may prevent stressful and expensive court proceedings if an accident or injury incapacitates you.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a “legal form that allows an individual to empower another with decisions regarding his or her healthcare and medical treatment. Healthcare power of attorney becomes active when a person is unable to make decisions or consciously communicate intentions regarding treatments.” (Investopedia)
In Missouri, a Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone to care for your personal business if you are hospitalized or homebound. The Durable Power of Attorney is similar, but takes effect if you should become incapacitated, allowing the individual you have designated (your “agent”) to take over your affairs when you most need help – for example, in making decisions about home health care, nursing care, or long-term care. The addition of the word “durable” means that the Power of Attorney cannot be terminated because you are incapacitated; however, because you have not passed away, your agent cannot make a will on your behalf, or revoke a will you have made, which is a protection to you. Generally, the agent is most often a friend or a family member, and not required to be a resident of Missouri. However, the individual must be over 18, of sound mind and body, not a health care provider or connected to the facility caring for you, and not a judge or a clerk of the court. If you should pass away, both The Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney are automatically terminated.
A Powerful Estate Planning Tool
The Durable Power of Attorney is a powerful estate planning tool demanding your careful consideration. Always seek professional legal advice from a knowledgeable estate planning attorney when preparing this and related documents to minimize the potential for exploitation of your finances. In particular, your attorney knows how to create the proper language to ensure that all transactions are to your benefit, your money is used only for your care, your designated agent cannot gift himself or others, and a mandatory accounting of all transactions and review by a trusted accountant is carried out. In Missouri, estate planning attorneys are ready to help at Quinn Estate & Elder Law.