Many people shy away from the creation of powers of attorney, largely because they dislike the idea of giving someone else authority over their lives. A medical power of attorney effectively authorizes someone else to make choices about what treatment you receive if you are in a coma or experience cognitive decline that leaves you without the testamentary capacity required to enforce your own preferences.
Although you may not relish the idea of someone else making choices about your medical care, you may find yourself in that situation one way or the other as you go through life. Creating medical powers of attorney before that happens is a way for adults to protect themselves from an uncertain world.
There may be no one to speak on your behalf
If you have a close relationship with your parents or one of your siblings, you might assume that someone you love will just step up to manage your health care if you are left on life support because of a house fire or an accident at work.
However, as an adult, there are privacy protections and basic rights that prevent others from making those choices on your behalf. Once you turn 18, your parents can no longer access your medical records or tell doctors what care to provide. Only a spouse has that authority, and most people don’t marry immediately after becoming adults.
If you draft medical power of attorney now, you can choose someone that you trust to make decisions about your health care after some kind of emergency. You can also provide explicit explanations for your medical wishes so that there is no confusion about your preferences regarding life support or pain management.
Financial powers of attorney are worth considering as well
The more assets you have and responsibilities you shoulder, the more important it may become for you also draft financial powers of attorney. You can potentially have someone else pay your rent or run your small business while you are unable to do so.
Financial powers of attorney can protect your assets from creditor claims that arise because you fall behind during a medical emergency. They can also help protect dependent family members who may not have access to or control over your resources despite relying on them. Thinking about what you may need in the future can help you decide what documents to add to your estate plan.