If you become incapacitated and can no longer handle your affairs or make your own healthcare decisions, who will make those decisions for you? Your parents? A family member? Your boyfriend/girlfriend, roommate, or spouse?
If you do not have a Financial Power of Attorney and/or a Healthcare Power of Attorney, naming an agent, the answer is none of the above. Once an individual reaches the age of eighteen (18), they become an adult under the eyes of the law, and must grant an agent the authority to make decisions in the event they cannot.
There are two (2) types of Power of Attorney; Financial and Healthcare. Both types name an agent and grant that agent specific authority in regards to your finances and healthcare. For example, in a financial power of attorney, you can designate that your agent has the ability to pay taxes, bills, and access your bank account. In your healthcare power of attorney, you can grant your agent the power to discharge or admit you to any healthcare facility, to make decisions regarding medications, and even to make end of life decisions.
The purpose of these documents is to enable someone you trust to make those everyday decisions that you no longer have capacity to do.
Life is unpredictable. No one has a magic crystal ball to tell them the exact moment when they will need a power of attorney. No one is guaranteed to reach an “old age” before a power of attorney is needed.
So, with that being said, here are ten (10) reasosn every Millennial should have a power of attorney.
- Granting someone the ability to access your bank account.
- Unless your bank account is a joint account with another person, a bank will not let a parent, family member, or partner access your bank account without a financial power of attorney.
- Choosing who is able to make financial or health related decisions
- If you have no power of attorney and you become incapacitated, the court will appoint you a Guardian. Court will appointment the person they believe to have your best interests at heart and be the best person to care for you during your incapacity. The persona appointed might not be the person you would have ever chosen.
- You have strong feelings about certain healthcare decisions
- If you have very firm religious or personal beliefs regarding life saving treatments like tube feeding or life support, to ensure those wishes are followed, you would need a healthcare power of attorney
- For example, you get in a car accident and are rushed the emergency room In order to save your life you are placed on life support. If your wish is to not be kept alive artificially, but you lack a healthcare power of attorney, that decisions will be made by a court appointed agent. The court appointed agent could decide to keep you on life support.
- You have very specific ideas about certain medical treatments
- For example, if you are a pregnant, you can designate in a healthcare power of attorney that any medical procedures to save the baby be done, at the expense of your own life. Or you can designate that you refuse to be given any kind of potentially addictive pain killer, like oxycodone. If you do not have a designated agent to stand up for these wishes, they might not be followed.
- You will never be able to create one “when you need it”
- To validly execute any document, the principal must have capacity. Power of Attorneys come into action when you lack capacity to make your own decisions. Therefore, when you need the document, you lack the capacity to execute one, and therefore must settle with the court appointed agent.
- You will prevent arguments and conflicts between family members, partners, and friends
- Again, the best case dealing with this reason is Terry Schiavo.
- If something happens to you, your partner and parents could have very different ideas about “what you want”. Those differing opinions will cause conflicts and heartache for both parties and potentially cause the guardianship process to be lengthy and expensive. Plus, once the court appoints a guardian, the party not chosen is going to be even more upset because of feeling “your wishes” are not being met.
- Caring for your pet
- If you have a pet at home and you get in an accident, who will take care of the pet? Naming an agent and specifically granting them the authority to pay for vet bills, foods, pet daycare, etc., ensure your pet is taken care of when you cannot.
- It also ensure your pet is taken care of by the person you feel is most suited to caring and tending for your pet.
- Ensuring your bills and monetary obligations are paid.
- If you do not grant somebody access to your bank account, how will your bills get paid?
- Student Loan payments, life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, rent, etc. are just a few examples of bill that will need to be paid during your incapacity. If no one has the authority to access your bank account, no one will be able to pay your bills.
- Granting access to your medical records and medical bills
- As of 2003, every healthcare power of attorney should include a HIPPA Waiver. HIPPA Waivers deal with the privacy laws surrounding medical records and medical bills. If you have not granted your agent the authority to review/receive your medical records and medical billing information, no one is going to be able to assist in making healthcare decisions for you. Hospitals and Doctors are not going to talk to somebody about your condition barring the HIPPA WAIVER.
- Peace of mind for you and loved ones.
- Financial Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney’s are the “best insurance” you hopefully never have to use.
- Having these documents in place in the event of your incapacity will make the process of assuming the decision making for you smooth, and easy. These documents are written instructions of how to best take care you and tend to your needs.
These ten (10) are just a few reasons why a Millennial should have powers of attorney. It is hard to think when you are in your 20s that you would not be able to pay your bills and dictate your healthcare. Youth brings with it a sense of indestructability.
The harsh reality is this: No One is Indestructible.
So, ask yourself this; How would your life and loved ones be effected if you have no power of attorney?
The Millennial Lawyer