The Critical Nature Of Powers Of Attorney & Advance Directives
A durable power of attorney (POA) and an advance directive are two estate planning tools that will ensure that someone has legal authority to act for you in the event of your incapacity. These two documents can save your family and loved ones a lot of worry, second-guessing and even heartache.
At the Law Offices of Karen J. La Madrid, we understand the importance and benefits of planning. Firm founder Karen J. La Madrid has over 30 years of California estate planning experience. She and her staff can guide you through the very simple, yet very important, POA and advance directive process.
Why Would I Need A POA Now?
There are several types of powers of attorney, including durable, springing and immediate. The most common is a durable POA. This document gives the person you designate the legal power to take care of your finances if you are unable to do so. It’s not pleasant to think about, but accidents and illnesses do happen, often unexpectedly. Some of the events that may cause you to need a durable POA now are:
- Early-onset Alzheimer’s
- A serious car accident
- Head trauma from a fall
- Stage IV cancer, or other progressive and debilitating illnesses
- A stroke, coma or COVID-19
A POA makes it possible for someone to pay your bills, make deposits and withdrawals, open and close accounts and sell assets when necessary. “Durable” means that this power is active when you become incapacitated. A POA is revocable. Therefore, should you recover and be able to manage on your own, POA will be turned back to you upon your request.
Once you designate someone to take care of your financial matters, your family knows that this person is in charge of the money. Before designating someone, it is wise to discuss with your estate planning attorney how to select a POA and which of the people in your close circle are best fit for the role. Durable POA is only about financial transactions, not medical decisions. An advance directive is the document that covers your health care wishes. Both of these are most often a part of your last will and testament.
What Is An Advance Directive?
An advance directive, or living will, applies only to health care decisions. An advance directive does not affect financial decisions or monetary transactions. Most often, this document has two parts. One part discusses the types of medical care and treatment you want or do not want. The other part designates a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. This person is called your health care proxy. You can make your directive as detailed as you would like and include items such as:
- Whether you would like to be resuscitated (via CPR, for example)
- Whether you want a breathing machine used
- If you want dialysis
- Whether you want feeding tubes, spoon-feeding or fluids
- If you want pain medications
- If you want to be moved to a nursing home facility
- Your beliefs about dying and death
An advance directive details your wishes, which can be a great relief to your family and friends. Having a designated person to make these decisions can often avert heartbreaking, relationship-ending arguments and disagreements. It is also wise to discuss with your estate planning attorney whom you have in mind for this role and why they would be a good fit.
The Guidance And Support You Need In Decision-Making
We know that it’s difficult to think about your own incapacitation or death. But preparing for it now can ensure that your family and loved ones clearly understand your wishes. Call 951-224-9209 and speak with a member of our team. You can also reach our Riverside office via website contact email. We’ll help you make a plan, see it through and leave a legacy.