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The importance of including powers of attorney in your estate plan

When doing your estate planning, you likely begin with financial concerns. You can write a will to divide up your assets among your heirs, put assets in trusts, leave money to charity and much more. You may even consider liquidating assets or giving gifts in advance as part of your plan.

This is all important, but make sure you consider the other aspects of estate planning beyond dividing money and possessions. For instance, you may want to include powers of attorney, which can be both legal and medical.

What is a power of attorney?

Generally speaking, a power of attorney just authorizes someone else to make decisions on your behalf. When the terms of the document are met, they can do things to assist you that they would otherwise be prohibited from doing.

For instance, with a medical power of attorney, you may find yourself unconscious and unable to tell the doctors what type of care you want. The agent that you chose can make those choices officially and legally, working with the medical team to decide what the best options are for your care.

With a legal power of attorney, someone may be able to get access to your documents and accounts. They could sell your home on your behalf, for instance, or file your taxes. These are things that you generally need to sign for, and with good reason, but the power of attorney exists so that someone can do it if you’re not able.

What is the advantage to you?

The advantage here is that you get to pick someone you trust. You know they really have your best interests in mind. You likely talked with them in advance about what you wanted, so they know better than anyone other than yourself.

People often say that planning for the future is difficult because you can’t predict it. This is true, but a power of attorney means you don’t need to predict it. You can have a viable estate plan in place no matter what. Be sure you know what legal steps to take.