Powers of Attorney and Guardianship
An effective estate plan will afford you the ability to appoint Powers of Attorney to make medical or financial decisions for you in the event you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. This concept is one we don't often appreciate enough. We are one life-changing situation away from no longer being competent to make decisions for ourselves! If that unfortunate situation arises and you haven't named anyone to make those decisions, guess what? The State in which you live will have a plan for you and will appoint someone to make your decisions. That someone may be a person you never would have named for yourself. That is called Guardianship. A common misconception is that one's spouse will have total control and access if they become incapacitated. Marriage is not a sufficient prerequisite to make medical decisions on behalf of your spouse. And unless a spouse is a legal owner of an account jointly with you, that spouse will not have the authority to make decisions or access an account in your name only. Whether you are 18 or 81, an estate plan would contemplate these issues.