Power of Attorney in Michigan Estate Planning
A Power of Attorney (POA) document is a crucial part of a Michigan estate plan. Learn more about what they are and why they are so important.
Just imagine what might happen if you were unable to make decisions for yourself. We don’t like to think about it, but it is a real possibility. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of these considerations to the forefront of everyone’s mind, and it is important to think about what will happen if for some reason you become incapacitated due to a health condition. A POA is an important document to have, but what exactly does it do? Let’s explore the types of POA documents and what they mean for you and your loved ones.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
One type of POA document is the Healthcare Power of Attorney. This is a document that grants an individual or individuals the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to do so. This document will be used in conjunction with a living will to guide your medical care according to your wishes.
When preparing your Healthcare POA, it is wise to consider some things. Will the person be available to help make these decisions? If you have a child that lives in another state, it may be more difficult for them to be available if there needs to be an immediate decision made in person. In some instances, it is good to think about who would have your best interests at heart and also follow your wishes. Occasionally, there have been instances where a child has been given a Healthcare POA only to ignore the wishes of their incapacitated parent.
It is also important to make sure you HAVE a Healthcare Power of Attorney in your Michigan Estate Plan. We all remember the national battle between the parents of Terri Schiavo and her husband Michael over her fate as she was in a persistent vegetative state. While there may still be disagreements among family members in these scenarios, having a POA document and living will can make the court battles less painful and drawn out.
Financial Power of Attorney
Another type of POA document is also necessary for your Michigan Estate Plan. This is a Financial Power of Attorney. Much like medical decisions, during times of duress, financial decisions must also be made. The inclusion of this document in your estate plan enables financial decisions to be made on your behalf. This is especially useful if you are a small business owner or have multiple assets.
Again, prudence is needed when choosing those that will make these decisions. Depending on the situation, having someone local to you may not be necessary. Unless your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” (terms used to describe your selected individuals in a POA) needs to sign documents in person, you may have a relative or close trusted friend out of state assigned. You may wish to choose different people for your Financial POA than your Healthcare POA.
For example, it may make sense to assign a business partner or spouse to be your Financial POA, but leave medical decisions up to a child or sibling. Your personal circumstances will dictate this, and a Michigan Estate Planning Attorney can help you as well.
Do I Need Power of Attorney Documents In Michigan?
Downriver residents often ask questions about POA documents. It is important to note that every situation is different, however it is generally advised to have POA documents in your Michigan Estate Plan. As you can see above, two different types of Power of Attorney documents exist in Michigan.
Without these documents in place, your decisions can be made by healthcare professionals and others. Your wishes may not be respected, and in some cases, your finances could be drained and misspent. In other cases, the lack of this documentation can lead to confusion, fighting and legal battles that can cause your loved ones pain, misery and cost them thousands of dollars.
Be sure to give clear cut directions in your POA documents and in your living will. When drafting these documents, it is important to have the assistance of an estate planning expert.
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