A power of attorney is a legal document that permits another person to make decisions on the behalf of an incapacitated individual. It is important that married Pennsylvania couples have at least one power of attorney. Having certain types of these documents on hand before a situation arises can ensure that someone they trust will be making any important decisions.
In situations in which an individual is debilitated and has no medical power of attorney in place, whoever would be responsible for making medical decision for the individual will be decided by state law. This may cause conflict if the designated person is estranged from the incapacitated individual. An individual can use the document to ensure that his or her wishes are respected and that important decisions are not left in the hands of someone with whom there is conflict.
No one, not even a spouse, would have the authority to access an individual's personal financial assets if the individual is suddenly incapacitated. A financial power of attorney would specify who would be handling financial decisions for the individual. In order to obtain the fiduciary authority that would be provided by a financial power of authority, it would be necessary for the person seeking the authority to involve the court system and file a guardian petition, which can be very costly in some states. There also the chance that the person filing the petition would not be who the incapacitated individual would have selected.
People can make sure that their medical care and financial assets are handled how they would prefer. These matters and others concerning estate planning may require the assistance of an attorney who has experience in this area of the law.