Imagine that you don’t have the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. For example, you have a serious illness that doesn’t permit you to manage your affairs, such as medical decision making or making a legal decision.
While no one likes to consider this possibility, it’s a wise idea to think ahead and plan for this circumstance by appointing a fiduciary, or a person who can make decisions for you if you’re not able to do so. This includes appointing a power of attorney, personal representative, and a health care surrogate.
Here is more information on each of these roles and why they are important.
Power of Attorney
Power of attorney is when someone can make decisions on your behalf should you not be able to do so. This is often associated with end-of-life planning, but power of attorney may happen in a few other circumstances. For instance, a person is living or working abroad and needs someone to handle their affairs in the U.S.
A power of attorney will step in to help sell assets to cover medical charges, pay bills, make real estate decisions, or set up Medicaid planning for you if needed, for instance.
A personal representative is a person who will manage the estate of someone who has died. This person is a fiduciary who must act in good faith and with the best interests in mind for the estate’s beneficiaries. A personal representative will decide how to handle the estate, pay estate taxes as needed, and pay any debts.
It’s common for a personal representative to be a beneficiary. However, if there are no beneficiaries or the beneficiaries are young, another person may be chosen.
A personal representative is also called an executor or legal personal representative. You can choose a personal representative, or a court may choose one after a person has died.
It’s possible for a personal representative to also be power of attorney for a person who is still alive and incapacitated—in other words, not able to make decisions on their own.
Health Care Surrogate
A health care surrogate is a person who makes medical decisions for you when you aren’t able to do so on your own. This means that the person can speak with health care providers about your care and make what are sometimes difficult choices to maintain your care.
It’s also possible to choose a health care surrogate for when you’re not incapacitated. This can be useful if you have a chronic illness. Choosing a health care surrogate involves a legal document that is freely available online. You can learn more about health care surrogates and the documentation involved here.
At Secure Aging, we have experience in educating our clients about these important fiduciary roles. We also can serve as these fiduciaries by request. Set an appointment with us today to learn more about how we can help you get your affairs in order with less stress.
Call Secure Aging to Find Out How We Can Help Seniors With Estate Planning Management
At Secure Aging in Bradenton, we transform the weight of the world into a sigh of relief for our senior clients and their concerned family members. The mission of Secure Aging is to protect and preserve our client’s independence and dignity through careful and thoughtful financial and care management. As our clients age, it is their desire to remain independent and age with dignity. Our services protect our clients from talented con artists looking to exploit and deplete the financial resources of our vulnerable seniors. Secure Aging helps families in Manatee County and Sarasota County and in and around the communities of Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Ellenton, Holmes Beach, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Myakka City, Palmetto, Parrish, and Sarasota. Call us at 941-761-9338, or visit us online at www.secureaging.com.