Many people overlook estate planning because they think they will have plenty of time to get everything in writing before something happens. The fact is that you never know when life will throw something unexpected your way. One component of the estate plan that can become critically important is the power of attorney designation. 

When you name a power of attorney, you are giving that person the ability to make specific decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. Most people will have two powers of attorney: One for finances and the other for health care decisions. You can name one person to have both of these or you can have one person for one and another person for the other. 

The individual you choose to hold your power of attorney must be someone you trust. They will need to be able to make decisions in your best interests, so think carefully about what motivations they might have. If you have any inclination that they will be self-serving, you should consider other options. 

Another part of your estate plan, the advance directive, outlines some of the points regarding your medical care. The person who has the power of attorney for health care won’t go against these. Your medical care team will abide by the written instructions, but the power of attorney will have a say in decisions that aren’t covered by that document. 

If you haven’t yet designated someone to hold your powers of attorney, it’s probably time to get that process started. Your future well-being may someday depend on having those documents in place. Find out how an experienced advocate can help you get your estate plans in order.