Nobody wants to think that there might come a time when you can’t make decisions for yourself. But just as every day that goes by is an opportunity for something joyful and new, so too is it a chance you could fall ill, get into an accident, or become mentally incapacitated. Would your family be able to pay the bills if you were unavailable to handle it? If you were unable to tell your doctor what kind of medical care you wanted, would your family know what to do?
A power of attorney names someone you trust to act on your behalf for important decisions and actions for your health, finances, and business matters. Most powers of attorney name a spouse, family member, or trusted friend as their designated agent.
Types of powers of attorney
1. General power of attorney A general power of attorney gives someone you designate the legal authority to take a wide range of actions on your behalf, often including medical decisions, legal actions, and financial and business decisions.
2. Limited power of attorney A limited power of attorney allows your designated agent to act on your behalf only in the areas you specify. It may also be limited to a specific period of time—say, when a spouse is deployed overseas.
3. Durable power of attorney A durable power of attorney remains valid even if you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for yourself. This allows your designated agent to make medical decisions and handle financial affairs if you become unable to do so.
4. Springing power of attorney This is a type of durable power of attorney that goes into effect only under certain conditions—typically situations such as deployment, physical disability, or mental incompetency.
5. Health care power of attorney This is a durable power of attorney that designates someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so and empowering them to make sure you are getting the type of care you would like.
Steer your future course today
Preparing a power of attorney today can save time, money, and heartache for your family and friends in the future. It also ensures that your wishes will be followed if there comes a time when you’re no longer able to communicate them yourself.
Here’s hoping you won’t have need for a power of attorney for a very long time indeed.
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