Your estate plan can provide directions for your care in a medical emergency in addition to providing an inheritance for your dependent family members. Estate plans can include numerous advance directives that protect you before you die in addition to testamentary documents for after your death.
You can leave behind instructions about your medical wishes and pre-arrange to make anatomical gifts. You may also want to create powers of attorney that give other people the authority to pay your bills or support your medical care during your incapacitation.
Powers of attorney take effect when you become incapacitated and typically remain in effect until you die. It is common for people to feel nervous about granting someone else control over their medical care or finances. How can you protect yourself from the possibility of someone abusing their power of attorney when you won’t be able to speak on your own behalf?
Separate the authority for medical and financial matters
You can delegate all of the necessary authority to one person, but then they have unilateral control over your affairs.
If you worry about granting one person that much authority, you can protect yourself by naming two separate people in a medical power of attorney and a separate financial power of attorney. These two individuals will have different responsibilities to you and can also provide a bit of secondary oversight for one another.
Includes specific limitations in your documents
You can be as explicit as you want when establishing rules for when your powers of attorney take effect. Do you need to be incapacitated for a full week? Perhaps you would prefer that someone not assume authority until a full month has passed.
In addition to limiting when the documents take effect, you can limit how much Authority the other party actually has. Instead of giving them full access to your financial resources, you might simply grant them access to a single account so that they can pay your bills.
Thinking about your own preferences and the ways that other people might fail to meet them can help you include the right guidelines and restrictions in your powers of attorney to fully protect yourself. Including the right terms in your estate planning documents means that they can give you peace of mind now and will protect your best interests later when you are in need of support.