Establishing a trusted power of attorney is an important step in setting up for your future. Filling out power of attorney (POA) documents allows you to decide in advance who you will trust to handle your affairs in the case that you become incapacitated. This is a key piece of effective estate planning, as it is impossible to know what may happen in the future.
In Wisconsin, there are two main types of POAs.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney. This allows the person to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make them.
- Financial Power of Attorney. The person selected for the financial power of attorney is able to make financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
It is common for someone to select the same person to do both POA duties, but not required. There are scenarios where you may choose to appoint one person as healthcare POA and another as financial POA.
What Decisions Can a Healthcare POA Make?
The healthcare POA is able to make important decisions regarding your health that they are overseeing, but not all decisions. The healthcare power of attorney can make decisions concerning hospital care, surgery, and any other treatment that may be required – including the choice of doctor. They may also make the decision on where you live while you are incapacitated – whether it be an assisted living or nursing home, or a residential home provided someone can care for you. Smaller decisions in regards to what you eat, who bathes you, and overall care provider choice are left up to the healthcare POA as well.
What Decisions Can a Financial POA Make?
A financial power of attorney is very beneficial to have, as you will have expenses related to your situation – and traditional expenses – if you are incapacitated for a long period of time. The financial power of attorney can take care of your financial accounts to help pay for your health care and any associated bills. In addition, they can file taxes for you and make/transfer investments for you. Given that you may be in a long-term position with your health, the POA is also able to handle applying for benefits for you. They can also handle the management of your property, and any sales that are needed with it.
What Can a Power of Attorney Not Do in Wisconsin?
Typically, power of attorney documentation does give the person wide-ranging authority with decisions that impact your life. But, there are some things in Wisconsin that the POA still cannot do.
Some of the important decisions that a power of attorney cannot make include:
- Make changes to your will. The POA will not be able to alter a will that you have created yourself or through an attorney.
- Retain authority after your death. In the event that you do pass away, the POA documentation essentially is voided. It is possible that a POA could become executor of your will if that hasn’t been made clear in the documentation itself – another reason to have a full estate plan.
- Give power of attorney privileges to another party. While the POA could decline the appointment that you have given them, they are unable to name someone else in their place.
Setting up a Power of Attorney in Milwaukee Wisconsin
Having power of attorney documentation completed is a big part of estate planning. Making sure that someone you trust is set up to handle your health and finances should you be unable to is vitally important for your future and that of your family. It can be extremely stressful for your family if there is no documentation in place, and often decisions aren’t made in your or their best interest when this happens.
Collins Law Firm offers power of attorney services as part of overarching estate planning packages that are affordable for individuals and families. Collins Law firm offers estate planning services for Wauwatosa, greater Milwaukee, and the state of Wisconsin.