There’s a common misconception when it comes to estate planning, including when it comes to signing a power of attorney. Many feel that they have too little assets to matter. Meanwhile, the size of an estate should not discount the intent of a carefully crafted power of attorney.
Consider this. Your adult child becomes of legal age and goes away to school. As far as the law is concerned, eighteen is the magic number to adulthood. Put aside the feeling that you’ll be viewed as a helicopter mom or dad. What happens if your son or daughter gets injured and cannot make medical decisions on his or her behalf?
The easiest way to circumvent prospective issues is to think ahead. The college student can execute a power of attorney that allows the parents to intercede without a problem. Likewise, a durable power of attorney will allow mom or dad to handle financial and legal matters while their child is away at school.
No doubt that most college students live on limited funds. What better way to realize that you don’t need to be rich to need a power of attorney?
What Granting Power of Attorney Means
First, you shouldn’t be confused by the name of the document. Although you might decide to appoint a lawyer as your power of attorney – there is no need for your legal representative to complete law school. More often than not, the person you name as your power of attorney will be a trusted family member.
When you execute a power of attorney, you are known as the principal. The document allows someone to make decisions on your behalf while you are still alive. In fact, it is no longer in effect once you pass on.
You could be concerned that by signing a power of attorney you are authorizing someone to take care of your affairs when you are fully capable of doing so yourself. This is a legitimate fear and one that an experienced estate attorney will discuss with you in drafting documents on your behalf.
There are a few reasons that it is critical to have a power of attorney in place. First, there is the issue of what happens if you are mentally incompetent. Wouldn’t it best to have someone you trust to act on your behalf?
You should also know that your power of attorney can be limited in scope. For example, you could designate someone as your attorney-in-fact for a single legal or financial matter.
Of course, there will also be important decisions regarding your medical care and final wishes. Your estate lawyer will work with you to determine who you feel is best qualified to act on your behalf.
At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, we encourage clients to consult with us concerning their estate planning needs. Many times, it is not just what happens to your estate after you die – but how it is handled when you are still alive. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.