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What is a power of attorney and why do I need one?

For many people, it is just as scary, if not scarier, to think about being powerless to make decisions on one's own as it is to think about no longer being around. No one wants to feel helpless and have others looking after them at all times.

But as important as it is to have a Last Will and Testament to oversee the distribution of your Estate after your death, a Power of Attorney designation to empower someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot, is just as important. It is a vital part of your Estate plan that can give you peace of mind.

The different types of Powers of Attorney

There are Power of Attorney designations that go into effect as soon as you and your designee sign them, and there are other that do not go into effect until you are deemed incapacitated. Power of Attorney designations cover:

· Health Care: This person will be able to make health care decisions on your behalf should you not be able to make them on your own. This can include which medications to take, where to seek care and whether to receive life-extending care.

· Financial: This person will be able to manage your financial affairs on your behalf. This can include selling your home, writing checks in your name, paying your bills and selling off certain assets.

The same person can serve as both financial and health care power of attorney, or you can designate different people if you wish.

How do I choose?

Because the person you designate will have wield such important powers over your finances and/or your health, it is essential you do not make the designation lightly. Many families have broken apart because of a relative or outsider using undue influence to gain a Power of Attorney designation and using that power to enrich himself or herself.

Many people choose a spouse or an adult child. However, you should sit down with your lawyer and talk think through any situation in which your designee may have to act. You should then have several frank conversations with the person you are considering to determine if he or she is up to the task.

At the Quinn Law Firm, we want to make sure your health and finances are in the right hands. Our estate planning attorneys can walk you through any questions you have about a Power of Attorney designation. Call us today at 814-833-2222 to learn more.

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