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Wills: Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are estate planning tools that provide crucial peace of mind for individuals and their loved ones. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we assist clients of all ages in preparing clear and effective powers of attorney that address the possibility of future incapacity. Incorporating powers of attorney into your estate plan is important regardless of your current health condition and financial status; and, with the right combination of thoughtful consideration and attention to detail, you can prepare comprehensive powers of attorney that provide adequate protection while also providing the flexibility you need to adjust to changes over time.

Understanding Your Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that designates one person (referred to as the “attorney-in-fact”) to make decisions and act on behalf of another. Powers of attorney can be used to address matters ranging from financial management to medical decision-making, and can be as general or specific as warranted under the circumstances at hand.

Durable powers of attorney (also referred to as “proxy directives” and “powers of attorney for healthcare”) focus specifically on medical care in the event of incapacity, and should be prepared in conjunction with an instruction directive (or “living will”). General powers of attorney can be used to address financial management and other issues, and must be drafted appropriately to ensure that the attorney-in-fact has only the level of discretion and authority desired.

Common Questions about Powers of Attorney

Q: When should I prepare a power of attorney?

We generally recommend that all individuals execute powers of attorney that are appropriate to their current circumstances. Since powers of attorney are designed to plan for incapacitation (and since you cannot sign a legally-enforceable power of attorney once you are incapacitated), they are important documents to have regardless of your age, health and finances.

Q: What happens if I do not have a power of attorney?

If you become incapacitated and you do not have appropriate powers of attorney, your family members may need to go through the process of having a guardian appointed to make decisions on your behalf. This can be a costly and stressful process, and it is rarely in the best interests of anyone involved.

Q: Can powers of attorney be modified?

Yes. Like most other estate planning documents, powers of attorney are not set in stone. As a result, you will be able to modify your powers of attorney as your beliefs, desires, and family circumstances change over time.

Q: Do I need a lawyer to prepare my powers of attorney?

There are several reasons to hire an attorney to prepare your powers of attorney. From Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) issues to tax implications, far more goes into preparing an appropriate power of attorney than most people realize. You also need to make sure that your powers of attorney are consistent with the rest of your estate plan, and the only way to do this is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Discuss Your Estate Planning Needs in Confidence

For more information about incorporating powers of attorney into your estate plan, schedule a free consultation at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. To speak with an estate planning attorney in confidence, please call 1-877-435-6371 or send us a message online today.

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