Hopefully, it will never happen, but if you are in a catastrophic accident or become mentally incompetent as you age, someone else will have to make life decisions for you. The court can appoint a guardian or conservator, but there is a good chance you will not know them, and your affairs may not be handled to your liking. While you are still healthy and competent, this is a good time to consult an experienced estate planning attorney.
With financial and medical powers of attorney in place, you choose your agent, called an attorney-in-fact, who will represent you when you cannot advocate for yourself. A Lake St. Louis power of attorney lawyer could secure how your future is handled when you need help.
Who Can Serve as an Attorney-in-Fact?
People who draft powers of attorney (makers) designate agents to represent them in a variety of situations, from limited buy-sell arrangements to handling banking duties to authorizing surgery when the maker is in a coma.
Makers cannot delegate all duties to an agent. Agents cannot draft or revise someone else’s will and cannot adopt a living will for another. Attorneys-in-fact do not have to be attorneys, but they must:
- Be mentally competent
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Not be the maker’s attending physician or an employee in a nursing care facility taking care of the maker
- Not work for the Missouri Department of Social Services or the Department of Mental Health
- Not be a sitting judge or a court clerk unless the proposed agent is related to the maker
Different documents are used for different power of attorney situations. A power of attorney lawyer in Lake St. Louis could discuss a client’s needs to determine the appropriate documents and who can serve as attorney-in-fact.
General Power of Attorney for Limited Transactions
Makers use a general power of attorney for limited transactions, such as standing in for signatory duties to close a real estate or other business transaction. Missouri no longer requires a detailed description of the transaction with a copy of the power of attorney, but a Lake St. Louis lawyer could still include the particulars to ensure power of attorney is used as the maker intended.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
As people age, they should consider enacting a durable financial power of attorney to designate an agent who can handle everyday financial matters for them. A sudden catastrophic accident or diagnosis of mental incapacitation means an agent can handle the maker’s financial accounts and obligations. The agent will also be able to purchase necessities for the maker. Both financial and healthcare powers of attorney should be durable instead of general. Durable powers of attorney take effect at incapacitation, while general powers end when the maker becomes incapacitated.
Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney
With durable healthcare power of attorney, the agent handles healthcare decisions when the maker becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. The agent can authorize surgery, other medical treatments, and end-of-life care if the maker does not have a living will.
Discussing one’s values and wishes with a prospective agent is imperative to ensure they understand what is acceptable and what is not. Some decisions are based on cultural or religious beliefs, and the agent should understand what is acceptable to the maker.
Secure Future Help With a Lake St. Louis Power of Attorney Lawyer
Many people put off estate planning because other matters seem more pressing and assume they will have years to think about it. However, you do not know what the future will bring.
It is better to be prepared and never need a power of attorney than to be unprepared and at the mercy of the court to designate people to help you. A Lake St. Louis power of attorney lawyer could tailor documents to your needs. Make sure your future is taken care of so you can enjoy the present. Contact our office to schedule your consultation.