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How to Set Up a Power of Attorney

  • August 6, 2022

When it comes to a power of attorney document, you don’t seem to need it — until you suddenly, desperately…

When it comes to a power of attorney documents, you don’t seem to need it — until you suddenly, desperately do.

Designing a power of attorney is crucial to creating a strong financial plan, but you might be surprised to learn many experts recommend that this power be named as soon as individuals turn 18 years old. Without a power of attorney, even your spouse may not be able to make medical or financial decisions for you if you were to become incapacitated — depending on the state in which you reside and the policies of your financial institutions.

“If you lose the capacity to make those decisions, someone still has to have that right — whether family members or sometimes even the state,” says Cynthia Griffin, an estate planning attorney at Burnett and Griffin in Kentucky. “A lot of people are really concerned about giving someone else the power to act on their behalf when it comes to their personal and private banking, real estate,” she says, but there are many options to consider when drafting the power of attorney documents that can make individuals more comfortable.

What Is Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney allows a third party, known as the attorney-in-fact or the agent, to make financial, legal and sometimes health decisions on someone’s behalf. Without a power of attorney, loved ones can be rendered unable to manage the health care decisions and finances of any adult who is unable to do so themselves — whether that individual is a 19-year-old car accident victim or a 90-year- old needing nursing home care.

“From the moment you turn 18, you need this,” says Jennifer D. Taddeo, estate

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