When you think of estate planning, you probably think of drawing up a will. Decisions about the division and distribution of your assets are the common focus.
You should also consider establishing both a power of attorney and medical power of attorney during the estate planning process. Both documents appoint others to make decisions for you, but a medical power of attorney is often overlooked as unnecessary.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney is a document that appoints a person to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. The wording of the document will indicate the specific powers given to the appointee and when they take effect.
Medical power of attorney
A medical power of attorney, or health care power of attorney, is a document that appoints a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. An aging or ailing individual may choose to assign an adult child to make healthcare decisions for them when they no longer have the capacity to do so. These documents can be beneficial for individuals who know a medical illness may impact their decision-making skills.
One does not need to be aging or ailing to name a medical power of attorney. This document is equally beneficial for people who suffer incapacitating injuries. If you are unconscious or are physically incapacitated, the person appointed as your medical power of attorney can make medical decisions for you.
It is common for people to assign the same person to handle both financial and medical decisions. In some situations, it is wise to separate those duties. It is important to create both of these while you are healthy and understand the documents you are signing, long before you expect to need either.