I Am Healthy: Why Do I Need A Power of Attorney?


As healthy adults we can usually manage our financial and medical affairs; however, life-changing events can occur which make that impossible. Have you considered who will manage your affairs if you have a stroke, an accident, end up in a coma, develop a debilitating illness or dementia, or even take a trip out of the country?  If you cannot take care of your financial or medical needs, someone will need to act for you to take care of your children, pay your bills, deal with your bank, make financial and/or medical decisions, or complete other tasks.

A durable power of attorney allows you to name someone to make financial decisions for you if you are not able to make those decisions yourself.  The durable power of attorney will remain in effect after you become incapacitated.  Powers of attorney can be created to become effective when they are created (an “immediate” power of attorney) or they can take effect only if you become incapacitated (a “springing” power of attorney).  You will need to consider your circumstances to determine which power of attorney would be the correct one for you.

A properly drafted and executed general power of attorney allows your agent to do anything you can do with your assets. It is important you appoint an agent you can trust to act on your behalf.  In addition to the general powers, you can elect to allow your agent to transfer assets into your revocable trust (to avoid probate at your death), and to make small gifts (up to the annual gift tax exclusion amount per recipient per year) on your behalf to your relatives or others.

A Utah Advanced Health Care Directive is a medical power of attorney in which you can name an agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. You will know best who could make those decisions for you, and your wishes regarding medical treatment and life-sustaining measures should be made known.  You can indicate your specific wishes regarding treatment, organ donation following death, or any circumstances in which you might want life-sustaining treatment withheld.

A Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) is part of the Provider Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) which is a physician’s order directing medical personnel not to start any cardiopulmonary efforts.  This form must be signed by you and the physician and must be included as part of your medical chart. This is done only in cases where your medical condition is terminal and death is expected to occur in a reasonably short period of time.

JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services.  Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George area for over 18 years. Please visit our web site www.jensenbayles.com or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles to get started on your power of attorney and/or health care directive. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as tax or legal advice.