A Power of Attorney is a financial document that allows your agent to write checks, deposit money, and generally manage your financial affairs. For many people, a Power of Attorney is more important than a will. While a will assures that your wishes are carried out after death, a Power of Attorney is critical in protecting you during periods of incapacity. You can name anyone you want as the agent under your Power of Attorney, including alternate agents if the first person is unable to act.
The other type of Power of Attorney that everyone should have is a Health Care Power of Attorney. This document designates who should make a medical decision for you if you were unable to do so yourself. Doctors and hospitals may not discuss a patient’s condition with family members because of HIPAA and other privacy laws. With a Health Care Power of Attorney, the doctors know who you have designated to act on your behalf, and know to whom they can disclose medical information.
In the event of a medical emergency, family members often must seek guardianship of a disabled person if these Powers of Attorney are not in place. For your protection, and to save your family time and expense, you should seriously consider signing Powers of Attorney. You should also consider having the sentence “This power of attorney shall not be affected by my disability.” added to your POA.
by Rosemary Durkin, shareholder in Stark & Stark, head of estate & trust division. Allen Silk, shareholder in Stark & Stark, head of business law division, is treasurer of TCNJ Foundation.