Especially in these troubled times, estate planning has become a hot button topic, and it seems like every week, estate planning is in the news. And, many know the importance of a will, but a common question is what other types of documents are also important. This blog will go over two of those documents, the durable general power of attorney and health care power of attorney.
The durable general power of attorney
The durable general power of attorney or DGPOA is one of the most common documents in a properly drafted estate plan. The DGPOA gives another person, called the drafter’s agent, the power to make general decisions for the drafter, should they become incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions. Specifically, these general decisions normally relate to needed financial and legal affairs, like operating a business.
The health care power of attorney
A health care power of attorney or HPOA is another document that is part of estate planning. Unlike the DGPOA though, the HPOA deals with healthcare issues. Essentially, a HPOA designates a person to make healthcare decisions for the drafter if they are unable to make their own decisions. While one can leave the actual decisions themselves completely up to their agent, normally a drafter includes an advance medical directive, which outlines the drafters wishes, like end-of-life decisions and treatments one does or does not want. This can be important for those that have religious objections to certain procedures. Moreover, it also alleviates the burden of deciding how and when someone wants to die.
Power of attorney generally
A key component of these documents is that they may not ever become effective because the drafter decides when they become effective. They could be immediate, but for most people they only become effective when a triggering event occurs, such as when one is incapacitated. The document can even outline what incapacity means, and it does not just mean medical incapacity, like being unconscious. It could also mean if our mental capacity is diminished, like through a traumatic brain injury. Moreover, they generally expire upon one’s death, when a will or other estate document would take over, or they can also be revoked sooner.
Though, as any Terrell, Texas, resident can tell, estate planning gets complicated. This is why it is so important to contact an attorney early in the estate planning process.