Whenever I am contacted to prepare one or more Wills, I ask whether the person I am speaking to has a power of attorney for property and a power of attorney for personal care, as these documents also form part of a complete estate plan.
Your powers of attorney for property and personal care come into effect when you are living, I explain, and your Will takes over upon your death. For so long as you are capable of making decisions for yourself, decisions regarding care are your own. However, if you are incapable of making these decisions, your attorney for personal care (the person or people you name to act on your behalf in your power of attorney for personal care) steps in.
Your attorney for personal care can end up making decisions and consenting on your behalf regarding a variety of personal care and treatment decisions, such as whether or not you should remain in your home, whether or not you undergo certain tests when in the hospital and the types of life-sustaining measures that should be taken. Therefore, it is not only important to name someone you trust can handle this role, but also that you speak to them about your wishes. For more information on broaching this often difficult topic with your loved ones and the importance of doing so, see my blog Estate Planning and End of life Decisions – A sometimes difficult conversation.
For more information on questions to consider when working with an estates law professional to draft a power of attorney for personal care and other estate planning documents, please see my blog Estate Planning and End of Life Decisions: 5 Questions to Consider.