Adding a bunch of extra documents to your estate plan may seem expensive and wasteful. Many adults only think that they need a will and nothing else to protect themselves and their families when they die.
It is certainly true that a will can accomplish many of the most important tasks required after someone’s death. A will can designate a guardian for your children and clearly define who should receive your property after your death. However, a will does not protect you while you are still alive.
Powers of attorney, in particular, can be valuable for those on the edge of retirement. What do people hope to achieve when they add powers of attorney to their estate plans?
They avoid a future guardianship
You never know if you might develop Alzheimer’s disease or suffer a traumatic brain injury that leaves you unable to communicate with others. When you lack the mental capacity to take care of yourself, other people could go to court and take control of your life.
Guardianship can leave you at the mercy of people you don’t know or that you don’t trust. If you create powers of attorney while you still have your testamentary capacity, you can essentially name someone to serve those same roles that a guardian would.
They protect their financial resources
Several months in a coma could wreak financial havoc on your life. You could regain consciousness, only to discover that your mortgage lender foreclosed on your house and your credit score is in the toilet because you’ve gone months without paying any of your accounts.
While you may be able to tackle some of those issues as you recover, it’s better to avoid them altogether. Financial powers of attorney can give someone else access to your bank accounts and billing statements when you can’t manage your finances.
They control their own medical care
The kind of medical care you want to receive reflects your personal ethics, your faith and your expectations for the rest of your life. Someone in the prime of their career may not want aggressive pain management because they worry that they will become addicted, while someone who needs palliative care due to a terminal illness won’t need to worry about future addiction issues.
From biological gifts, like organ donation, to your preferences on life support, there may be many medical issues that provoke strong feelings for you. When you create a medical power of attorney and an advance health directive to go with it, you can leave instructions for someone you trust to handle your medical care on your behalf so that doctors don’t just apply the standard in your case.
Adding powers of attorney to your estate plan will protect you from an unpredictable world and give you more peace of mind than you might have with just a will in place.