Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Proxies and Living Wills are important estate planning documents that help you maintain control over your financial and medical affairs. Regardless of your current health condition, there is a chance that at some point you could become incapacitated. This is true for all of us; and, while it is not a pleasant possibility to consider, it is an important possibility to take into account when preparing your estate plan.

There are three primary estate planning documents that are used to plan for incapacity. These are: (i) a Power of Attorney, (ii) a Healthcare Proxy, and (iii) a Living Will. In Connecticut, Health Care Proxies and Living Wills are together referred to as Advanced Directives.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that grants another person the authority to manage your financial affairs and sign legally binding documents on your behalf. Once signed, your chosen designee (referred to as your “attorney-in-fact”) will be able to act on your behalf to pay your bills, manage your investments, hire legal representation and take any other similar types of measures that may be necessary.

The person you appoint as your attorney-in-fact can be anyone you choose. However, most people choose close family members who are capable of managing their finances and making important decisions in their best interests. If you are not sure who to choose, we can help you consider your options.

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

A Healthcare Proxy is a legal document that grants another person the authority to make decisions about your medical care in the event of your incapacity. When you prepare your healthcare proxy, you can provide as much or as little direction as you choose, and you can give your chosen proxy as much or as little discretion as you prefer.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a legal document that authorizes your doctor to terminate life-sustaining care in the event that your life is being artificially prolonged by a life support system and you are not expected to recover. It is up to you whether to sign a Living Will; however, if you choose not to sign one, it will be especially important for you to provide direction to your loved ones in your other estate planning documents so that they are not forced to make difficult decisions about maintaining or terminating life support on your behalf.

When you choose an attorney-in-fact and healthcare proxy, it is important to speak with these individuals and ensure that they are comfortable serving in their respective roles (you can also choose one person to serve in both roles). If you would like, we can provide you with tips for having these discussions, and we can help you ensure that your loved ones know what to do in the event of your incapacity.

Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in Confidence

For more information about preparing a power of attorney, healthcare proxy or living will, please contact experienced estate planning attorney Fred Eisman at EismanLaw PLLC in confidence to arrange an initial consultation by calling us at 914-864-3355 or telling us how we can reach you online today.