Estate Planning – Importance of Powers of Attorney – Power of Attorney Series – #1
A common question on powers of attorney arises when there is an emergency medical situation.
For example, Mom is rushed to the hospital by ambulance accompanied by Dad. While Mom is rushed into an emergency exam room, the hospital asks Dad for information and a Medical Power of Attorney. They immediately need to know who can make medical decisions for Mom. What if Mom has never signed a power of attorney?
Without a signed Power of Attorney, some hospitals will only treat a patient for the emergency medical care that is necessary and that they have a legal obligation to provide. The hospital will not provide continuing care and may not allow others to make medical decisions for the patient. It is important to remember that a spouse does not have an automatic right to make medical decisions for his or her spouse.
We believe that a Medical Power of Attorney is just as important as a Will.
Currently, the normal life expectancy for most people is in the 80’s and people make more frequent visits to their doctors and hospitals in the last 10 years of their life.
It is very important to have someone setup as a medical decision maker/power of attorney in case an emergency arises and you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.
A Financial Power of Attorney is just as important. If you are in the hospital, particularly if you are unconscious, and you are the only owner authorized to sign on your financial accounts, the bank won’t allow anyone access to your accounts. Your normal bills such as housing payments, utilities, and dependents will not be taken care of in your incapacity.
If you are incompetent and have no power of attorney, you will be headed for a Court appointed Guardian or Conservator.
Powers of Attorneys, both Medical and Financial, are cheap and easy to draft and execute. There is no reason not to have these important documents.
Many people have questions about powers of attorney, their various aspects and importance. Over the next few months, our blog will feature answers to these common questions and explanations of different components of Powers of Attorney. Please check back for this series.
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