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Who should have a power of attorney?

For many people, the realization of the benefits of a power of attorney comes too late. Once someone is no longer capable of understanding his or her legal, medical or financial needs, obtaining a power of attorney to handle those needs is not possible. Instead, loved ones may have to seek permission from the court to deal with critical and even life-and-death decisions. This is why many legal advocates it is never too early to have a power of attorney designation. 

Your general power of attorney agent has the authority to make decisions about the financial and legal matters, such as paying your rent, while you are unable to do so. Your medical power of attorney speaks on your behalf when you are facing health care decisions and are unable to communicate your wishes to the doctors. Unfortunately, these situations do not happen only to the elderly. 

Young people and powers of attorney 

Once your unmarried child turns 18, you may no longer have authority to make important decisions for him or her. Whether your child still lives in your home or has gone off to college, an accident or illness may leave you unprepared for handling critical decisions. In fact, in many circumstances, privacy laws may prevent your child’s doctors from discussing your child’s condition or the options available for treatment.  

It may seem unthinkable, but you may be forceto seek a court order to act in your child’s best interests when time may be of the essence. This is only one example where having a power of attorney designation may provide peace of mind. If and when your child marries, his or her spouse will then have legal authority to speak for your child in an emergency.