Being a parent brings with it a great deal of responsibility, and part of that responsibility is taking care of certain legal matters while you still can. To ensure that your family and affairs are looked after, there are three documents specifically that you should have in place right now. Without these documents, the courts could appoint somebody to manage your affairs on your behalf, your family and children may have to spend time in court trying to get control of your affairs, and certain wishes of yours may not be carried out.
A durable power of attorney for finances is a legal document that names an agent who can make financial decisions on your behalf, even if you become incapacitated and incapable of making those decisions yourself. The breadth of a durable power of attorney for finances can be quite extensive, and you can give your agent the authority to:
The benefit of a durable power of attorney for finances is that your affairs will still be managed, and your family taken care of, even if you aren’t capable of handling those responsibilities. Should you become incapacitated without having a durable power of attorney in place to handle your finances, then your family will likely have to get a court order to manage your affairs.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare is similar to that for finances, but the scope is different: instead of handling your finances, the agent handles your medical and healthcare needs. Because it is a durable power of attorney, this document enables your agent to make healthcare decisions for you even if you cannot make them yourself.
Should you become sick or injured and incapacitated, your agent becomes responsible for communicating with healthcare professionals on your behalf, making decisions about treatments, and ensuring that you receive the type of medical care that you want. The major advantage of having a durable power of attorney for healthcare is ensuring that your medical wishes are carried out when you’re not able to communicate them. Otherwise, your healthcare decisions could end up in the hands of a court-appointed healthcare proxy, who won’t necessarily know or respect your medical wishes.
A living will is an advanced directive that’s often used in conjunction with a durable power of attorney for healthcare. Whereas the power of attorney lets you name the agent whom you want to act on your behalf, the living will provides that agent with instructions for how you want your medical affairs managed should you fall into an irreversible coma or a persistent vegetative state. A living will often includes specific information about:
Without a living will, your family or agent may have to make difficult medical decisions on your behalf without your input. Not only is this very strenuous on loved ones, but it can also cause disputes among family members about how to proceed with your medical treatment. Moreover, there’s also the possibility that your medical wishes may not be respected, especially if you never discussed them openly.
A durable power of attorney for finances will ensure that your family and children are looked after if you become incapable of managing your financial affairs, and this will remove a major burden from your shoulders. Similarly, having a durable power of attorney for healthcare in place will ensure that your medical wishes are respected, and having a living will written up will guarantee that your family and children don’t have to make difficult medical decisions on your behalf without knowing what you wanted.