You decide who your power of attorney (POA) is as part of your estate plans. Your power of attorney handles any financial and medical decision if you are incapable of making the decision for yourself. Typically, people who have to undergo medical treatment, develop mental illness or are away on business trips will have their POA step in for them.
Your POA doesn’t have full control over your life, but they may be able to make some of the biggest, life-changing decisions for you. Here’s what you should know:
What can a medical POA do?
You can decide to have your POA split between two people under medical and financial responsibilities. When you’re considered incapacitated, your medical POA is responsible for all your health concerns:
- What doctors and care providers attend to your needs
- Decide what medical treatment and surgeries you’ll undergo
- Choose your prescribed medication
- Decide on your home-care needs and nursing care
Typically, your medical POA will make all the final decisions when it comes to your health unless you can make them on your own.
What can a financial POA do?
Alternatively, your financial POA will make the final decision when it comes to what is done with your money. Typically, a financial POA (like a medical POA) springs into place when you’re unable to make your own decisions, but you may even designate a specific financial POA when you’re not around to make purchases. Military personnel who are deployed, for example, may leave a relative as their financial POA here in the states.
Your financial POA can do things like:
- Pay the rent, mortgage, utilities or debts you have
- Access your financial accounts for that purpose
- Make investments or purchases in your name
What can’t a POA do?
Just because someone makes choices on your behalf, doesn’t allow a POA to do just anything. A POA has many restrictions which could cause legal actions:
- Purchase goods for personal investment
- Change a will
- Designate someone else as POA
- Transfer property to their name
You shouldn’t put just anyone in charge of your decision. If you’re designating a power of attorney, you may need to reach out for legal help.