What will happen if you become incapacitated?

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Carl S. Goode |

Understandably, most people do not like to imagine a future where they may not have the ability to make decisions for themselves. Various events, including accidents or illness, can cause you to lose your ability to make legal decisions.

A power of attorney is a tool you can use to give power to trusted individuals to handle your medical and financial decisions.

The role of an agent with financial power of attorney

In your estate planning documents, you can assign someone to handle your finances in the case of an incident where you can no longer make the decision yourself. The attorney-in-fact may manage investments, bank accounts and the purchase and sale of real property. To act on your behalf, the agent must present the power of attorney document, except when signing checks for you.

The purpose of an agent with medical power of attorney

If you have a medical event that results in unconsciousness or causes you to lose the capacity to make medical decisions, then someone will make them for you. If you do not have a medical power of attorney, the decision may go to your next of kin or who the court chooses. When choosing someone for your medical power of attorney, it should be a person who understands and respects your values. The agent you assign makes important medical decisions regarding your treatment.

Sometimes, people assign the same agent for medical and financial power of attorney. Consider your specific circumstances and what would work for your situation.

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