No one likes to think about their mortality, especially while in good health and in the prime of our lives. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and, as reluctant as we are to think about it, we must be prepared to accept our imminent demise.
Although you can’t change the future you can take steps to make it as comfortable as possible for both yourself and your loved ones. Planning can help protect both your assets and your own circumstances should you become incapacitated.
There are several provisions you can put in place to help you rest easy should things take a turn for the worse, and you should contemplate having these in place now ahead of your future need for them.
Power of Attorney – A power of attorney is a legal signed document giving another person of your choosing the right to act on your behalf. It is normally established to cover for financial events that may arise. This person can effectively sign for and make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to due to incapacitation, unavailability (e.g. you are overseas) or any other reason.
By definition, a power of attorney has wide ranging powers to make decisions on your behalf and with this right comes great responsibilities. You should ensure your power of attorney is someone who will continue to be available and who you have complete trust in to act in your best interests. You may establish a non-durable power of attorney for a limited time (e.g. an overseas trip) or an enduring one that may last until it is revoked.
Wills – It’s a sobering thought having to determine how your estate will be divided after you are gone but it’s a discussion best had while you are still alive. Your will is a legally binding document that lays out your intentions for what is to happen with your assets after you are gone. This can also include provision for taking care of any dependents such as children, and how you wish your funeral and burial to be handled. Failing to leave a will can see your assets unresolved – a situation known as being intestate. This can result in a lengthy process involving a court appointed administrator who will be charged with the job of dealing with your matters. The administrator will be someone not chosen by you and as such your wishes may not be respected. The keystone of your will is to appoint an executor you can trust to carry out the intentions of your will.
Enduring Guardianship – An enduring guardianship is similar to a power of attorney but does not include the right to make financial decisions for the person concerned. An enduring guardianship gives a trusted person responsibility for care decisions concerning you if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. This can be useful in the case of dementia, stroke, a coma or any other event that will render you incapacitated.
All of these means of protection can be changed or revoked at any point in time. Talk to an expert and check the law in your respective state to ensure you meet the relevant legislative requirements for your state.
If you’re trying to identify ways to protect your family and your assets, you don’t need to do it alone. A financial adviser (or planner) spends their days identifying and presenting opportunities to their clients. Our simple, quick, free service will connect you to the best independent financial advisers, based on your needs. Click here to get started.
The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into consideration your personal situation or circumstances. You should consider whether the information contained in this article is suitable to your needs and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser or other finance professional.