When you are planning your estate, part of responsible estate planning includes setting up a health care proxy and a power of attorney in the event that you are incapacitated and no longer able to make decisions for yourself. While you will create a will, leaving money to heirs in the event of your demise, assigning a responsible person to act on your behalf is also essential.
What a Health Care Proxy Does
A person that is assigned as your health care proxy makes all medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make these decisions. If you don't have an assigned health care proxy, this job will fall to your spouse, or children if you are not married. When you don't have an individual in your life that would be the natural decision maker in the event you are incapacitated, assigning such a person will give you the peace of mind you need for your future. A health care proxy makes decisions only if you can't, and if you recover from your injuries, you retain the right to make your health care decisions.
A health care proxy has to listen to your wishes. The best way to make your wishes known is to document them as part of your health care proxy paperwork. You can decide if you want all life saving measures done to keep you alive, whether you don't want to live on a respirator, and whether you want to be allowed to die if you suddenly go into cardiac arrest. You have choices, but only if these choices are well documented prior to your becoming incapacitated. Otherwise, your health care proxy has to make decisions that they believe are in your best interests.
How a Power of Attorney Can Help You
Just like a health care proxy, a power of attorney has the right to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. You should think carefully about the person you assign as your power of attorney, because if you are not able to take care of your financial affairs, they will take care of all of your business for you. In the event you are permanently incapacitated, they will have the right to handle your money, transfer assets, and act as if they were you when handling your money. While a power of attorney will have to file an accounting with the court, it's important to assign this duty to a person you trust.
For more information about estate planning, speak with an attorney like Stuart W. Moskowitz, Esq., CPA.