Burlington elder law attorneys provide advice on making an incapacity plan, which typically includes a power of attorney. However, many people have no plans in place in case of incapacity and do not make a power of attorney (POA), which could have helped both them and their family members after a serious illness or serious injury strikes.
A POA must be created while a person is of sound mind, and it is often too late to create a power of attorney once once is needed. You should talk with Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC before something happens to you so you can create an incapacity plan and ensure you and your family will be in the best possible situation if a serious medical emergency arises.
If it is too late and a loved one in your family is already incapacitated, our legal team can also offer you advice on what happens when it is too late for a POA to be created.
What is a Power of Attorney in an Incapacity Plan?
A power of attorney is often a key part of an incapacity plan. An incapacity plan is a plan that is made in case you become unable to make decisions or express your preferences due to an illness or due to an injury. For example, if you have a stroke and you are not able to speak or act on your own after the medical emergency, you will be much better off if you have an incapacity plan. In your incapacity plan, you hopefully will have specified what your wishes are for various types of extraordinary medical proceedings. Using a power of attorney, you should also have named an agent who is vested with authority to act for you.
When you create a power of attorney, you decide who your agent or attorney in fact will be, and that person is the one who makes your choices when you aren’t able to do so. The fact you get to select the person acting for you is significantly better than just having the court make this choice. Your agent will have a fiduciary duty to act on your behalf too, so you can rest assured the law requires your agent to put your interests first.
You can also structure your power of attorney so the agent gets authority to act on your behalf as soon as something happens to you, so a delay in managing assets is not necessary. Your agent can start handling your affairs right away and there will be no need for complicated court proceedings to determine who is going to be the person who acts on your behalf.
What if it is Too Late for a Power of Attorney?
If it is too late for a power of attorney and you become incapacitated due to an illness or injury, your loved ones are going to be facing a difficult situation.
Your loved ones may need to initiate guardianship or conservatorship proceedings so the court can officially declare that you are incapacitated and should have a guardian. Once the court decides you cannot act on your own, the court will appoint the person that the court believes is best suited to serve as a guardian.
The appointed guardian by the court who has authority to manage your affairs for you may not be the person who you would have preferred and may not be someone who you believe will actually reflect your wishes. Unfortunately, there will be nothing you can do as a result of your incapacity. If you want a say about what happens to you when illness or injury leaves you unable to speak up for yourself, you need to make an incapacity plan.
Getting Help from Burlington Elder Law Attorneys
You do not want to become incapacitated and not have a power of attorney in place to protect you and the people you love. You never know when tragedy might strike, so it is best not to wait to create a POA. Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC can guide you through the formal process of giving someone legal authority to act as your agent if something happens to you. To find out more about what a power of attorney is and why you should make sure that you have an incapacity plan, download our free estate planning worksheet.
To create your personalized incapacity plan, give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online today. Our legal team will work with you to use a power of attorney and other legal tools to control your future and spare your family difficulties in a time of crisis. Call today to start making your incapacity plan.