It can be frightening to think about potential health issues, but there are two simple documents that can help ease these fears: the Health Care Proxy* and the Power of Attorney. Taking the time to create these documents can protect your health, your finances, and your family during difficult situations. These documents give you a voice when you cannot speak for yourself.
The Health Care Proxy and the Power of Attorney serve a common purpose: naming an “agent,” such as a friend or a family member, to act as your voice in the event of incapacity. The Health Care Proxy allows this agent to make medical decisions for you, while the Power of Attorney allows your agent to manage your financial affairs. These agents – who can but do not have to be the same person – can step in when you clearly cannot take care of yourself.
At first glance, these two documents may seem unnecessary, especially if you are young and do not have any serious medical issues. However, the future is unpredictable – and these simple documents can ensure that, even in the worst case scenario, you are being cared for by someone you trust. The Health Care Proxy and the Power of Attorney can serve as your safety net, while also giving your family peace of mind during difficult times.
By contrast, not having these documents can prove inconvenient, confusing, and even detrimental to one’s health and finances. Without a Health Care Proxy, a court may need to appoint a guardian to determine your medical treatment, which means administrative headaches and court expenses. Similarly, the absence of a Power of Attorney could lead to court proceedings to appoint a conservator to manage your property and finances, which means additional expenses and inconvenience. In these situations, the court may not have context for your preexisting relationship, if any, with the appointed person – which can ultimately leave you under the care of someone you would never have chosen yourself.
By creating a Health Care Proxy and a Power of Attorney, you can ensure that those you trust will be able to look out for your best interests when you cannot. These two simple documents can prove invaluable in protecting yourself and your family.
Creating these documents is easy and ultimately safeguards you. Fill out the form below to speak with one of our estate planning attorneys today to start creating your estate plan. The first meeting is always free.
*The Health Care Proxy may also be called a Healthcare Power of Attorney. The term “Health Care Proxy” is used throughout this piece to prevent confusion.