NOW MORE THAN EVER YOU SHOULD HAVE A POWER OF ATTORNEY. HERE’S WHY.
Aug. 17, 2020
Every year, an estimated 1.5 million people in the US sustain a traumatic brain injury. Between 5% and 6% of these individuals develop a long-term disability. In many cases, the disabilities are more than just debilitating; they're incapacitating.
Outside of TBI, other chronic and significant disabilities affect 25% of US adults. Aging brings a heightened risk for such problems, affecting two in five people aged 65 and older.
Then, there's the current pandemic that has the whole world gripped by fear.
Despite this, many people in the US still don't have a power of attorney (POA). Moreover, as much as 50% of adults aged 55 don't even have a will yet.
Most people know what a will is, but many are unaware of how vital a POA is. This post details all the reasons why this legal document is crucial, so be sure to read on.
A Power of Attorney Protects Your Interests While You're Still Alive
A will and a power of attorney are both legal documents necessary for estate planning.
A will protects your loved ones' interests and financial well-being when you pass away. It allows you to designate the person who'll take care of your minor children. It also enables you to specify the people you want to distribute your assets to in the case of your death.
A power of attorney, on the other hand, protects your interests while you're still around. This legal document names another person to act on your behalf if you get incapacitated. The named entity can then make critical decisions that directly influence you.
Such decisions include those for your health care, personal, or financial matters. Keep in mind that mental or physical incapacity can rob a person of their power to take care of themselves. With a power of attorney, you can rest assured that someone will always look into your well-being.
A POA Allows You To Travel Without Worries
Every day, 1.3 million business trips occur in the US alone, which sums up to staggering 474.5 million trips each year. Of these, 405 million involve long-distance travel.
If you're part of this group, a power of attorney can help you manage your affairs while you're away. It's also for this reason that many of those in the military service set up a POA before they get deployed.
With a power of attorney, you can have another person handle your finances in your absence. This is especially useful if you don't have a spouse or a partner who can help you do so. You can specify the powers that you grant to the person you will name as your attorney-in-fact.
You Specify Who Will Act on Your Behalf
Without a power of attorney, a local court may have to get involved in your affairs. For instance, in Missouri, a court can appoint a guardian or conservator under the local law. Either individual can act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
If this occurs, you may no longer have a say on the court's decision. You may not be able to choose someone you trust to take care of your affairs.
In addition, such court proceedings or interventions take a lot of time. This puts all aspects of your well-being on the line, or at the very least, "on hold." Also, the court-appointed individual may not be the person you want to take care of your affairs.
With a power of attorney, you have every right to specify who this individual will be. Moreover, it'll be entirely up to you to decide the extent of the powers to grant that person. In this way, you can choose someone you completely trust.
A Missouri POA Can Be as Broad or Limited as You Wish It to Be
In Missouri, there are three main types of power of attorney forms that you can choose from. Some of their main differences lie in the limitations of the power that you grant to the named person. They also vary in terms of when the POA takes effect and when it expires or becomes void.
General Power of Attorney
The general POA form allows you to choose a person who can make any financial decision on your behalf. You can apply as many restrictions on the activities or "powers" that you grant to this individual.
You can terminate a Missouri general POA anytime that you desire to. It does, however, usually become void if you become physically- or mentally-incapacitated.
Durable Power of Attorney
The durable POA form allows you to delegate a person to make end-of-life decisions for you. You can also authorize the person to make crucial health care choices on your behalf.
The fact that this POA can last for as long as you live is the reason behind the term "durable." You can, however, revoke it any time you wish to.
Limited Power of Attorney
This enables you to appoint representatives to manage specific tasks on your behalf. It can be anything financial in nature. However, this legal document is more often for authorizing real estate attorneys.
Having an Attorney-in-Fact Helps Mitigate Family Disputes
One of the most important benefits of a POA is that it can help prevent family disputes. This is especially true if the incapacitation occurs in a sudden manner. In this case, that person may be unable to make sound decisions.
If this happens to you, and you don't have a POA, your family may disagree on which hospital to take you to. Disputes on healthcare and treatments may arise, especially if there's an ultimatum involved.
Remember, a power of attorney grants someone the authority to act on your behalf. As such, they will follow your specific instructions for such matters. This, in turn, can help reduce the risks of disputes and disagreements within the family.
Set up a Power of Attorney Now
As you can see, having a power of attorney not only benefits you; it can also help keep the peace in your family. Most importantly, it helps ensure that someone you trust can act on your behalf in case you become unable to.
If you don't have a power of attorney or a will yet, we suggest that you consider setting up both now. Our legal experts here at TdD Law can provide you the guidance that you need. Please don't hesitate to connect with us now so we can help you manage your affairs.