Most people tackle estate planning from the standpoint of making preparations for their final affairs. This is not a bad approach to estate planning, but it is not a thorough one. There are other instances when estate planning comes into play while you are very much alive. One example of when this might happen is after a bad accident or if you develop a mental disability. In these instances, you need trusted individuals to serve multiple purposes.
These may include healthcare decisions and your financial affairs. If you are married and have a joint account, your husband might be able to handle some of this on your behalf. However, choosing your agent tends to work out better. Marriage, after all, does not make someone good with money. In fact, the people most emotionally invested in your wellbeing might be the least capable of making sound financial decisions at the time.
According to CNN, a power of attorney grants someone the privilege of becoming your fiduciary. This person then has a legal obligation to act in your best interest. There are two main types to consider. The first is a durable power of attorney. In this instance, choose your agent wisely as they have no obligation to prove that you are incapable of making sound decisions on your own before acting as your agent. In contrast, a springing power of attorney only gives someone the right to act on your behalf under specific circumstances detailed by you.
While it is common to choose relatives and friends as agents, many people prefer professionals. As alluded to above, people do not always make the best decisions when their loved ones are not well. Professionals, on the other hand, may act more objectively. The downside to professional agents is that some are more focused on money than actually ensuring your health and finances are kept in good shape. In short, some commit physical, mental and financial abuse.
Ultimately, choosing the right agent requires time to think through the pros and cons. This is why it is so important to get this done ahead of time. The last thing you want is to feel rushed to make a decision at the early stages of a diagnosis, or worse, have no plan in place at all. Note that when people do not have a power of attorney, the state may assign one.