Power Of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document which provides written authorization for someone else to act on your behalf. There are many types of powers of attorney, used in many situations. While planning an estate for possible death or disability, most people execute a “durable power of attorney”. This type of power, called “durable” by the law, remains in effect even if a person has lost the capacity to express his or her wishes, because of illness or accident. In this way, people can identify the person they would like to help, when the time comes, well in advance of needing any help.

Commonly in Missouri and Kansas, durable powers of attorney are divided into financial matters and healthcare matters. That is, most people execute two documents, a financial power of attorney identifying who will help take care of money and assets in case of disabilty, as well as a healthcare power of attorney identifying who will help take care of medical decisions in case of disability. Thus a thorough estate plan often includes a trust, a will, a power of attorney for financial matters, and a power of attorney for healthcare. Attorney Aaron Cook is ready to answer questions about all of these documents and to assist clients in establishing a complete system.

When to Take Effect?

Among the many questions concerning a power of attorney is one about timing. Should a power of attorney become effective now or later, when a person becomes disabled. Generally, a person more advanced in age or in illness would choose an immediate power, while someone younger or healthier might choose a “springing” power, to take effect later, when needed. The timing of the power is a choice to consider in consultation with your attorney.

Appointing a Power of Attorney

When appointing someone to act as your representative on a power of attorney, it is important to consider someone you trust to carry out decisions on your behalf and in your best interest. This does not have to be the same person for each of the general and medical powers of attorney. These can also be written to consider children who would eventually be of age to act on your behalf, but currently would be unable to act for you.

Power of Attorney for Financial and General Matters

Your financial power of attorney allows you to choose someone to make financial decisions for you and on your behalf should you be unable to do so yourself. This could appoint a person to pay bills, handle banking, sell real estate, or manage other business matters.

Power of Attorney for Medical and Healthcare

Your medical power of attorney appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to speak for yourself. Your Power of Attorney for Healthcare may also, at your discretion, include an Advanced Directive, or Living Will. An advanced directive can specify decisions regarding various life-sustaining or end-of-life medical care.

Keeping Documents Up To Date

It is important to remember when creating any estate-planning documents that, as time passes, they need to be reviewed to ensure that your wishes are still accurately expressed. Situations may change and you will want your documents to reflect those changes, when necessary.

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