The average person’s goal when creating an estate plan is to guide what happens with their property when they die and to provide support for their family members. Some people also include documents that can help provide them with protection and support if they ever experience some kind of debilitating medical emergency.
People can draft advance medical directives discussing their wishes for treatment if they experience short-term incapacity caused by a medical emergency. Such documents can help ensure that they receive appropriate care given their preferences. They may also want to include documents to protect themselves from involuntary guardianship or conservatorship if their ability to live independently changes later in life.
Durable powers of attorney can help to protect the vulnerable
Someone who is still healthy and of sound mind can put together documents now that will take effect in the future if they should experience some kind of health condition that leaves them permanently incapacitated or unable to speak on their behalf. Basic powers of attorney can help in a short-term emergency, like a coma after a car crash, to ensure someone has proper advocacy and support.
People may also need to think about what would happen if they are never able to manage their affairs again. A durable power of attorney retains its authority even if probate courts declare someone permanently incapacitated and unable to manage their own affairs.
Durable power of attorney documents typically retain their authority until someone dies, at which point their testamentary documents will assume control over the process. Powers of attorney provide peace of mind by allowing someone to grant financial and medical authority to a person that they trust to meet their needs while they are in a vulnerable position.
Without such documents in place, someone experiencing cognitive decline or diagnosed with a condition like Alzheimer’s disease that will diminish their testamentary capacity could end up taken to court by family members or even professional caregivers seeking control over their assets and day-to-day life. In these ways, adding the right paperwork to a comprehensive estate plan can help to protect people from whatever unpredictable events may occur in their lives.