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Financial versus medical powers of attorney: Know your options

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2022 | Wills & Trusts

When you start planning your estate, one of the first things many people do is write up their will. This legal document can help detail how your assets will be distributed to beneficiaries after you die. A will isn’t just about asset distribution but could decide the fate of your health and finances while you’re still living.

When writing a will, you may have to decide on powers of attorney. A power of attorney will make large decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to physically or mentally speak for yourself. There are two types of power of attorney – and here’s what you should know:

Financial powers of attorney

Your power of attorney may step in if you’re incapable of handling your own affairs by accessing your accounts and paying your rent, utility bills or other debts. Although you can give someone your financial power of attorney to handle business for you (like if you’re overseas) while you’re still capable of making your own decisions, most financial POAs “spring” into action only once you’re incapacitated.

Anyone over 18 years of age can be a financial power of attorney, but that doesn’t mean just anyone should be. A financial power of attorney may be someone you can trust who can handle financial responsibilities. 

Medical powers of attorney

The person with your medical power of attorney may oversee your medical decisions on your behalf. Unlike a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney is only active temporarily during times when you’re no longer able to make decisions regarding medical treatment. 

Again, anyone over 18 years of age can be a medical power of attorney. Keep in mind, however, that your medical power of attorney may need to make hard decisions on your behalf –  and not everyone is equipt for the job.

If you’re planning your estate, you may need to reach out for legal help when deciding how your health and finances will be overseen.