A power of attorney is a document that you can add to your estate plan. It’s used to authorize other people to make your decisions. There are many legal, financial and medical decisions that only you can make for yourself, so someone else needs to be authorized in case you are incapacitated. They need to have the legal ability to make these choices.
Naturally, people are sometimes concerned about creating these documents because they don’t want to sign over these legal abilities immediately. For example, maybe an elderly parent wants to name their firstborn child as their agent in a medical power of attorney. But they still want to have autonomy over their medical decisions right now. They’re just planning for a theoretical future, ideally making their estate plan years or decades before they would really need it.
Incapacitation must be determined first
But there is no reason to be concerned about this. The way that a power of attorney and set up, it doesn’t spring into action unless you are incapacitated. As long as you can make your own decisions, no one can take that right from you, even if you named them as your agent.
But the unexpected can happen. People suffer from strokes or heart attacks that leave them recovering, but unable to communicate in the hospital. People have degenerative diseases or get injured in car accidents. These types of things can happen at almost any age, so they are unpredictable. Creating a power of attorney gives you some assurance that the right documentation will be in place if needed.
If you’re interested in setting this up, make sure you carefully look into all of your legal options.