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What can happen if you do not have a Power of Attorney?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Firm News

Like many others, you may assume that your closest relatives can automatically take over to manage your affairs after an unexpected accident or illness. In reality, your loved ones may face legal barriers and delays when making arrangements for you without a Power of Attorney (POA).

Though it has benefits, many overlook setting up an estate plan, including assigning a POA. However, this legal document takes only a few steps to set up and may spare you and your loved ones from unnecessary inconveniences in the future.

Don’t leave it to chance

Appointing powers of attorney is critical in any estate plan. It allows you to appoint someone you trust, such as a spouse, relative or friend, to handle your affairs in case of incapacity. There are many different types of POAs, but there are two primary types that people often include in their estate plans:

  • Financial power of attorney: This empowers an individual to oversee and make decisions about your financial matters.
  • Medical power of attorney: This empowers an individual to make critical health care decisions that align with your preferences when you cannot communicate them.

A POA is not mandatory, but it can help speed things up during emergencies. If you become incapacitated without a POA, your loved ones may be unable to access your assets, potentially leaving your bills unpaid or medical treatments unfunded. There may also be internal conflicts regarding medical decisions.

Additionally, your family will have to seek court-appointed guardianship. Beyond being time-consuming and emotionally draining, there is also the risk that the court might appoint a guardian who is not your preferred choice.

Where to start

Establishing a power of attorney in Maryland is relatively simple, but many continue to put it off because they are unsure where to begin. To start, you can think of whom you believe will be a good fit as your agent or the person authorized to make decisions. If you already have people in mind, discussing the role with them can help ensure they are willing and able to take on the responsibilities of an agent.

You may wonder how much control you will have to hand over. That is where an estate planning attorney comes in. They can draft the necessary legal documents in a way that limits the power of an agent according to your comfort level.

By taking proactive measures now, you can safeguard yourself and your loved ones from the potential inconveniences and legal headaches that unexpected situations often bring.