Every Michigan estate plan includes different documents. Some people only have a will. Others rely primarily on trusts to achieve their estate planning goals. However, the best plans include multiple different documents to achieve several different unique goals.
In addition to the testamentary documents, like a will, that talk about what happens to your property when you die, you also need to consider what might happen to you if a car crash puts you in a coma or if you develop Alzheimer’s disease in your 80s much like your grandmother did.
Adding power of attorney documents will help you in both temporary and long-term incapacitation scenarios.
How powers of attorney work
Legal adults can draft documents that pass certain authorities to others. If that individual becomes unable to speak for themselves due to declining cognitive abilities or other severe medical issues, powers of attorney authorize other individuals to assume some of their responsibilities. These documents have no authority until the incapacitation of their creator.
Many people create both financial and medical powers of attorney and may name different people to serve as their agents in each document. A financial power of attorney could provide access and instructions for someone to pay your mortgage while you are unconscious in the hospital. A medical power of attorney will give someone other than your spouse or say in the treatment you receive. The person you name can act on your behalf in accordance with the instructions you leave.
Durable documents protect you as you age
Some people will eventually become unable to enter contracts or make legally-binding decisions because of diminished capacity. If these individuals already have durable powers of attorney on record, those documents can retain their authority even when their creator no longer has the capacity to create new legal documents.
The individuals empowered by those powers of attorney could potentially serve the same role that a guardian would. When someone creates powers of attorney, they may effectively protect themselves against the possibility of an involuntary guardianship in the future.
Understanding the impact that powers of attorney can have on your well-being and future may motivate you to add these crucial documents to your estate plan.