Giving someone else control over one’s finances and health care decisions through a power of attorney designation may seem unthinkable to some. They may have heard stories of people whose agents took advantage of them and left them alone and struggling. However, many in Texas who refuse to include a power of attorney document with their estate plan leave their loved ones in some difficult and painful situations.
A power of attorney authorizes a trusted individual to handle the principal’s medical, financial and legal matters in the event that the principal is unable to manage them. This may be due to temporary illness, declining mental capacity, travel outside the country or other reasons. Having a POA in one’s estate plan can have many benefits, including the following:
- The POA can speak on behalf of the principal to express his or her wishes for applying, withdrawing or withholding certain medical treatments.
- A POA agent can continue paying the principal’s bills while the principal is incapacitated, potentially preventing negative consequences from defaulting.
- The designated agent can deal with any other financial matters, such as depositing checks or filing tax returns.
- With a POA in place, loved ones will not have to seek a court order to make critical medical, legal or financial decisions on behalf of the principal.
- The principal can choose several agents to handle different decisions.
- The principal can choose the amount of power an agent has as well as when the POA becomes active and when it terminates.
Since there are several variations, it is possible for those who have misgivings about designating a power of attorney to find a level of grant with which they are comfortable. However, it is essential that granting such power occur cautiously. For this reason, it is wise for one to seek the advice and guidance of a skilled Texas attorney for every aspect of an estate plan.