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What should you know about powers of attorney?

When creating your estate plan, your primary focus is likely on ensuring your assets get passed down to your beneficiaries as you intend. While that’s undoubtedly an important goal, you should also do what you can to protect those assets – and your broader interests – if you become incapacitated.

One estate planning component you should set up accordingly is a power of attorney. You need a power of attorney for health care and one for finances, or you can designate the same individual to assume both responsibilities. Discussing your wishes for medical care and finances with the individuals you put in these positions is a good idea so they understand what’s expected of them.

What is a health care power of attorney?

A health care power of attorney allows someone to make medical decisions if you’re incapacitated. They work closely with your healthcare providers and can step in if your advance directives don’t include terms about your current needs.

What is a financial power of attorney?

A financial power of attorney allows someone to make decisions about your money and assets if you’re incapacitated. They can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts, take care of your investments and sell or purchase assets. Powers of attorney designations become invalidated if you pass away. The person who administers your estate will assume power over it after your death.

Remember, a power of attorney is only one part of your estate plan. Seeking legal guidance can make setting up a comprehensive plan easier. Getting this done as soon as possible may help you to feel peace of mind since you’ll know that your interests are taken care of if something happens to you.

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