When you finally sit down to create your estate plan you will be faced with a number of difficult, yet important, decisions. Although many of those decisions will relate to the disposition of assets upon your death, not all of them will. For example, you may find yourself wondering “ Should I have a South Carolina durable power of attorney for health care in my estate plan? ” In order to make that decision you need to know what a durable power of attorney for health care is and how one is used.
A comprehensive estate plan should include far more than just a roadmap for the distribution of your estate assets when you die. Additional components to your estate plan may include things such as retirement planning, special needs planning, business succession planning and/or incapacity planning. Incapacity planning in particular is something that everyone can benefit from because no one is immune from the possibility of becoming incapacitated. A durable power of attorney for health care is an incapacity planning tool.
Specifically, a durable power of attorney for health care is a type of advance directive. Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to make end of life health care decisions in advance and/or to decide who you want to make decisions for you should you be unable to make them for yourself.
A power of attorney is a legal agreement that allows you to grant authority to an Agent to act on your behalf in legal matters. When a POA is made durable it means the power granted to the Agent will survive the incapacity of the Principal (you, in this case). A durable POA for health care is a specialized POA that only grants your Agent the power to make medical treatment decisions for you if you are incapacitated. As long as you remain capable of making your own decisions you will retain the ability to do so; however, should you suffer an incapacitating event or illness your Agent’s authority will become effective. You may also include specific wishes, that your Agent must then honor, regarding your health care in the POA document and/or specifically limit your Agent’s authority if you wish to do so.
If you have additional questions or concerns about incapacity planning or estate planning in general, contact the experienced South Carolina estate planning attorneys at Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm by calling 843-577-3700 to schedule your appointment.