May means warmer weather, summer fun around the corner, and graduation season. Parents celebrating their young adult’s accomplishments should consider a practical graduation gift for their progeny on the cusp of exploring newfound freedoms. Help them prepare for the future with a Health Care Power of Attorney and Financial Power of Attorney or POAs.
Of course the Healthcare and Financial Powers of Attorney aren’t only useful for soon to be college freshman—in reality anyone over the age of 18 should have documents in place. Often times when we think of estate planning, we think of retirement or old age, but accidents are non-discriminate and can happen to anyone at any time.
So what are Power of Attorney documents?
They are documents that apply only during your lifetime and allow someone you’ve named called an Agent to step in and assist you with medical and financial decision making. Without the documents in place, a parent can’t assist an adult child (age 18 or older) if they are incapacitated, nor can a spouse assist their partner.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
The Healthcare POA names an Agent and Backup Agents to make medical decisions for you in the event of your incapacity. The Agent can make decisions regarding your physical health like consent to treatments and medication, sign medical release forms and receive information. The Agent cannot place you in a mental health facility that is covered by a different area of Wisconsin statutes.
Financial Power of Attorney
Similarly, the Financial POA name an Agent and Backup Agents to assist with finances and property management upon incapacity. A Financial Agent can pay bills like rent or electricity, manage property such as your home and interface with the mortgage company. They can sign checks on your behalf and file your taxes. The Agent has broad powers to step into your financial life and assist you with your affairs.
Without these two documents in place, should you as adult become incapacitated and require medical and financial decision assistance, a person called a Guardian must be appointed by the courts. To have a Guardian appointed, the circuit court must be petitioned and there must be a hearing with opportunity for objections by interested parties. This process can be time consuming, costly and take a large emotional toll.
The importance of the Healthcare and Financial Power of Attorney documents cannot be overstated. You never know what the future holds. Medical crises can happen to anyone at any age. Give your adult child or your family the gift of protection. Protecting your graduate with a Health Care Power of Attorney and Financial Power of Attorney, you'll be prepared for whatever life throws your way. You can check out our flat-rate Graduate Protection Plans or schedule a free initial consultation with our estate planning attorney today.