Planning for Life’s Unexpected Turns

When we are young and fearless, not yet feeling our own mortality, we do very little planning ahead. However, as we grow older and take on greater responsibilities, we begin to address the future differently. We may use that new foresight to develop a retirement plan for when we leave the workforce and create wills to provide for our loved ones when we are gone. What we often fail to prepare for are circumstances, whether due to an accident, illness, or mental decline, which interfere with our ability to make reasonable decisions and meet our daily needs. Anticipating that kind of a challenge requires only a few documents appointing someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, and you are rarely too young to start.  
 
Power of Attorney (POA):   
 
A POA names an “agent” who can act as your financial and legal representative. There are three main forms of POAs, though their names and how they’re constructed may  differ from state to state.  
  • A Limited POA defines what, specifically, you are granting your agent financial power over, such as a bank account or real estate transaction.  
  • A Durable POA is the most common and comprehensive POA, which becomes effective upon signing and remains in effect if you become incapacitated. You may give it to your agent or choose to keep it in your files or with an attorney, so your agent can find it when the need arises.  
  • A Springing POA takes effect only when you reach predefined levels of incapacity. The challenge this presents is that, before it takes effect, you must be declared incapacitated, which can restrict an agent’s ability to act at an important juncture in your life.  
POAs are designed to assure that your wishes be carried out when, for whatever reason, you are incapable of acting for yourself. The alternative is Guardianship/Conservatorship which is costly, involves the courts, and may involve a guardian/conservator you don’t know.
 
Health Care Proxy (HCP):  
 
An HCP sometimes called a Health Care Power of Attorney, grants your agent the power to make healthcare decisions and only takes effect in situations where you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.  
 
The Health Care Proxy is often accompanied by a living will and/or an “Advanced Directive,” which defines what you want to be done and not done at the end of life. These decisions will inform your agent on how to proceed, should you become critically ill. These most commonly include provisions that request no unusual measures to prolong life.  
 
Because of the highly personal nature of these choices and the unpredictable circumstances which may lead to their enactment, estate planning is vital to all, regardless of age. It is a safety net that all of us need in order to protect us when we are most vulnerable.
 
If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at Eddy & Schein in New York at 212-987-1427 or in Los Angeles at 626-372-0090 for a free initial phone consultation.
Rebecca Schein Gideon Y. Schein,
Rebecca R. Eddy
Partner/Co-Founder
Gideon Y. Schein
Partner/Co-Founder

Eddy & Schein
212. 987.1427
NYmail@eddyandschein.com

626.372.0090
CAmail@eddyandschein.com

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