There are a variety of different kinds of documents that you might use in the estate planning process. It is important to recognize that not all of these accomplish the same goals although they will all be required to adhere to relevant state laws.
This is why it’s a good idea to have a relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney who can verify that the documents you have created are legally accurate for your state and accomplish the goals that you intend for them to.
A power of attorney is a document that in general authorizes another individual to make decisions on your behalf. You can designate a medical power of attorney to make health care decisions for you or a financial power of attorney to oversee your finances. Choosing someone to hold your financial and medical powers of attorney gives you more control over your future and shows that your wishes will be followed by someone you trust in the future if needed.
A financial power of attorney and a medical power of attorney are two different documents, even though they can be designated to the same person or to two different parties. A financial power of attorney enables the person that you have designated, known as your attorney in fact or your agent, to oversee your finances. This enables someone else to step in and pay your bills if you are not able to do so.
A medical power of attorney, on the other hand, designates an individual to make medical decisions for you if you no longer have the capacity to do so, such as if you have sustained serious injuries in an accident and cannot speak for yourself. Discuss your options for creating a power of attorney document for medical affairs or financial needs with your estate planning lawyer.