The decision to grant someone the authority of a power of attorney is a hard one. There are a number of circumstances where that is beneficial but that does not mean it is any easier. Most people need some legal help in setting these up. This is a list of some of the benefits of giving someone this authority.
- You get to choose who makes decisions for you. If you do not have a power of attorney and something happens where you are not in a position to make certain decisions for yourself, those may be left to people you do not know. Often in elder law situations, a conservatorship or guardianship is put together to handle these decisions. This is expensive and it takes the control away from people you know and trust and gives it to people you do not. Most people who offer legal help recommend a power of attorney over such as situation. When courts have to get involved, you have really no say and the process can really be painful for the people in your life who care about you.
- This gives you a chance to talk to your family or other loved ones. There are a lot of decisions that people do not like to have to talk about but are important. If you have an estate planning attorney, they should be part of this process but when you are looking to appoint a power of attorney, it forces you to talk to your family and friends about what you want to happen with your finances. Writing a will is a good step but if something happens to you and you cannot make decisions, your entire estate can be eaten up if a guardianship or conservatorship needs to be established. If you have an expert who is providing legal help, they can help you work through the process. It will also make the entire situation easier if your family is clear on what you want.
- You leave no uncertainty or confusion. People often see problems in other families when a member has become incapacitated. There if often a lot of fighting that happens as they try to work out what the incapacitated person would have wanted. You may see that with other people you know and think that this would never happen with your family and friends. The problem is, no one in your life knows what is going on in your head but you. They think they do but they all may have differing ideas about what you want. When you have one person serving as your power of attorney, you can make sure your wishes are carried out. This will make everything easier for everyone involved.
- This helps you get the benefits you deserve. When you have a power of attorney, you have someone who is authorized to deal with agencies who allocate public benefits. If you are eligible for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or programs like, Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare, your power of attorney can make sure you get them. In terms of legal help, this is one of the best things they can do for you. Judges are often reluctant to allow the guardian to step in and work to protect the assets of an incapacitated individual but a person with the authority of a power of attorney has that right.
- It makes things easier for everyone who cares for you. If you become incapacitated and you need things like home health care services or you need to have your assets protected, if you do not have a power of attorney, the people who love you will have to petition a court whenever they want to do something on your behalf. That means they have to seek out legal help and work through the court system. This is expensive but it is also painful. By having a durable power of attorney in place, you can prevent them from having to go through all of that as they try to help you.
Sometimes people avoid certain topics, like what to do if they become incapacitated, but working through a power of attorney process will help everyone in your life.