What do you need more: A will or a power of attorney?

As a wills and estate lawyer, I often have clients who want to do their estate planning, but don’t want to spend the money on everything I recommend. Fair enough. Money can be tight and planning your beneficiaries is something that a lot of people feel they can push off.
What do you need more: A will or a power of attorney?

But here’s the surprise: if you’re on a limited budget, though, getting a power of attorney or representation agreement might be even more important than making a will. Let’s explore why.

Why a Will Matters

The importance of a will is often pushed, especially for parents and the elderly, and rightfully so, as it is important to plan for your loved ones after your death. However, there is a fundamental difference between a will and a power of attorney or representation agreement. Your will only comes into effect after you’ve died. You will be, quite literally and by design, no longer around to enjoy it. 

The Importance of a Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement

On the other hand, a power of attorney and representation agreement are generally made to plan when you are incapable – and in that situation you will be around to deal with the consequences of that choice or lack thereof. Even if you are not fully competent or able to manage your affairs, presumably you are still going to experience the care, medical and otherwise, that you are being given. That is why it can be imperative to ensure that someone you trust is in charge of your person and able to make medical choices for you.

Making Sure You’re Well Taken Care Of 

I have seen numerous instances where there are concerns about whether someone is being appropriately cared for by their close family members or by a caregiver they have accepted into their lives. Friends are sometimes concerned about the family; family can be concerned about each other or about friends. As an outsider, it can be difficult to see if these concerns are legitimate. 

Sometimes people come to me because a loved one is no longer competent and they don’t trust their close family members to have their best interests at heart. If they haven’t appointed someone as attorney or representative, there is little I can do in those cases without clear evidence of abuse or neglect. 

Being at Your Most Vulnerable

If you do fall incapable due to mental or physical causes, you are likely the most vulnerable you will ever be. Without having someone you trust managing your affairs, people may seek to take advantage of you or simply neglect you. The best person to prevent that is you – by making arrangements ahead of time and forging relationships with those who will ensure you are cared for when you are no longer able to do so yourself.

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Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice. Consult with qualified professionals to create a personalized estate plan suitable for your specific circumstances.

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