The Power of Attorney: Is it the Right Tool for You?When planning for your estate, it is essential that you designate where assets will go and make your final wishes known.  However, what is equally important is that your estate plan includes designations as to who can make medical and financial decisions in the event you are unable to do so.  Without these designations in place, loved ones may be faced with having to go through the burden and expense of having a court make these decisions.  Fortunately, through properly executed powers of attorney, Michigan residents can decide today who will act on their behalf in the future regarding their finances, health, and physical care.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances (POA) essentially names another person to step in on your behalf regarding your finances in the event you are unable to do so.  A person who is creating a financial POA is in the position of limiting the powers granted by the document.  However, it is important that your POA be properly prepared in order to ensure that it is structured in a manner which protects your interest and grants your designee the authority they need to make critical financial decisions.  In the absence of a financial POA you would be leaving decisions about your financial affairs up to a court which could then appoint a conservator.  Having a POA in place allows you to decide who the best person to protect your interest may be.  This will place you in a better position than having a conservator appointed as the appointed person may not be the one you would want to make these decisions. If you already have a POA, it is important to ensure that it is updated to reflect your chosen designee and comports with current law.

Patient Advocate Designation

In addition to a financial POA, it is critical that you also have a medical POA. In Michigan, this is referred to as a Patient Advocate Designation (PAD) (sometimes called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care) and allows a person to name someone in the role of a patient advocate who can make medical decisions on their behalf if they were to become incapacitated.  You may also use a PAD to determine the kinds of treatment you are willing to undergo and to provide direction regarding life-saving measures.  Like the financial POA, if you do not have a PAD in place you will not be in control of determining who will make decisions regarding your care.  Therefore, it is essential that you have a PAD in place in order to make sure the person of your choosing serves as your patient advocate.   Also, like the financial POA, it is important that this document be drafted according to the requirements under the law and that it be updated every few years in order to ensure it is current.

Having a financial POA and PAD are critical pieces of any estate plan.  These documents give you the ultimate authority to decide who will make the most important decisions regarding your daily needs, finances, and healthcare.  Leaving such important decisions up to the law or a court can leave you and your family in a position of uncertainty and instability.

In order to protect your interest, it is essential that you consult with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can help you properly structure your POA and PAD.  We have knowledge and experience preparing these invaluable estate planning documents and can help.  Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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