Powers of attorney are one of the more useful estate planning documents most people in Kansas and Oklahoma include in their plans. For families creating an estate plan, these documents can be especially helpful. Here are several reason why including one or more powers of attorney in your estate plan is important if you have a family, or are considering starting one.
Powers of Attorney and Your Family’s Finances
One of the main reasons why people need powers of attorney is the possibility that they might be one day unable to manage their own finances – an prolonged absence, disappearance, or incapacity. If, for example, you are involved in an accident, you will need someone who can manage your bank accounts, bills, and other financial obligations on your behalf. But who will that be? Will your spouse be able to manage those obligations for you? What if you have individual bank accounts? What if your spouse is injured at the same time?
You can answer all of these questions by crafting a financial power of attorney. You’ll have to choose your agent and decide what kind of powers you want the agent to have, but making sure you have a financial power of attorney in place is essential.
Powers of Attorney and Your Children
What if you need to go on an extended business trip and leave your children in the care of your parents? What if you’re hospitalized? What if you just want to go on vacation? If you ever ask, or need, someone to take care of your children for you for an extended period of time, that person might need to make important decisions on the child’s behalf. A power of attorney for child care will allow the person you’ve chosen to do exactly that. Whether it’s decisions about school, medical care, or anything else, crafting a power of attorney for child care is essential if you want to make sure the child’s caregiver will have the legal authority to make the important decisions.
Powers of Attorney and Your Medical Choices
Powers of attorney also allow you to name a representative who will make medical choices on your behalf if you’re ever incapacitated. While most married couples choose to name their spouse as their medical representatives, you are under no obligation to do so. In fact, in some situations, choosing another person as your representative, or at least naming alternates, is a better choice.
For example, let’s say that you and your spouse craft medical powers of attorney that name one another as the other’s medical representative. What if you’re both injured in an accident? Without alternates, your powers of attorney will be useless.
Further, you may not want your spouse to make choices for you at a time of great stress. Passing the responsibility on to someone else may allow your spouse to better deal with the emotional distress of your incapacitation. A power of attorney ends at your death. But, during your lifetime, it can be one of the most important documents you ever create.