Using Powers of Attorney and Living Wills to Declare Your Wishes

Using Powers of Attorney and Living Wills to Declare Your Wishes

Do your loved ones know your healthcare and financial wishes if you were to become incapacitated? Would they have the authority to act on your behalf? Powers of attorney and living wills can help ensure that you receive the care and assistance you desire.

Powers of attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants someone the authority to act on behalf of another person in specific situations. There are several different types of power of attorney:

  • General POA: This grants broad powers to the appointed agent, allowing them to handle various financial and legal matters on behalf of the principal. It is effective immediately upon signing and remains in effect until revoked or the principal becomes incapacitated.
  • Limited or Special POA: This grants the agent specific powers for a limited time or a particular transaction. It is often used for single transactions, such as selling property or handling a financial matter when the principal is unavailable.
  • Durable POA: This remains valid even if the principal becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent. It can be general or limited, but the durable feature ensures continuity in the agent’s authority if the principal is unable to make decisions.
  • Springing POA: This type becomes effective only upon the occurrence of a specific event or condition, typically the incapacity of the principal. It provides a safeguard, as the agent’s authority is triggered only when necessary.
  • Medical POA: This authorizes an agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the principal if they become unable to do so themselves. It is used when the principal is unable to provide informed consent for medical treatment.
  • Financial POA: This empowers the agent to manage the principal’s financial affairs, including banking, investments, and property matters. It can be general or limited, depending on the scope of authority granted.

Living wills

A living will allows you to express your medical wishes in the event that you cannot communicate them yourself. In Ohio, living wills only go into effect when someone is terminally ill and unable to express their wishes, or when they come permanently unconscious. This legal instrument is used to guide medical professionals and loved ones in providing medical treatment or withdrawing life-sustaining measures if the person becomes incapacitated.

In Ohio, a living will outlines the types of medical treatments the individual does or does not want to receive in specific situations, such as being in a permanent vegetative state or suffering from a terminal condition. It may cover procedures like resuscitation, artificial feeding or life support.

Your estate plan can include both POAs and a living will. For more information about creating your own comprehensive estate plan, call Dworken & Bernstein today.

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