According to research from Age Wave and Merrill, among Americans aged 55 and older, only 55% have wills, and only 18% have the three recommended estate planning essentials — a will, a healthcare directive, and a durable power of attorney. That percentage is low, and it means that for many people who become incapacitated, their families will be left without legal proof of their wishes.
A power of attorney is an important document that can help prevent problems that interfere with respecting an individual’s wishes. With the right power of attorney and advanced healthcare directive, there can be no confusion.
At Bischoff & Bischoff Law, P.A., we help clients throughout Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the nearby areas with determining who should be their power of attorney and what type of power of attorney to use. We can help you understand the process and provide guidance in your decision-making.
A power of attorney (POA) names someone to carry out your wishes for you. By combining an advanced healthcare directive (in which you detail your wishes should your health falter and you become incapacitated) with a POA, your voice will be heard even if you become unable to speak for yourself.
Under New Mexico state law, a power of attorney means a written or otherwise documented record that grants authority to an agent to act in your place, whether or not the exact term “power of attorney” is used.
In New Mexico, there are four types of legally recognized powers of attorney:
General: A general power of attorney allows your agent to act on your behalf. This is also useful if you’ll be traveling outside of the country for an extended period of time. It ends either when you become incapacitated or upon your death.
Durable: A durable power of attorney is like a general power of attorney, but is not ended by your inability to manage your own estate or financial affairs. It only ends when you pass away.
Limited: A limited power of attorney gives your agent specific powers during a specific period of time.
Springing: A springing power of attorney begins as soon as you are unable to make your own decisions. It is important to think carefully about — and put into writing — when you would want a springing power of attorney to begin.
A power of attorney is important because it allows you to have control over who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. If you do not have a power of attorney, then New Mexico law will be followed when determining who will make those decisions.
By establishing your power of attorney in advance, you have control over who will make decisions on your behalf. You can alleviate certain family members of the burden, or you can show them that they are the only individual you would trust with certain tasks.
You need to be confident that you’ve chosen the right person to be the agent for your power of attorney. To be certain that you are making the best decision, you should choose someone who understands your faith traditions, your ideologies, and your wishes.
The person you choose should act in good faith and protect your best interests. Most people choose a close family member, such as a spouse or a close friend. No matter who you choose, they cannot override the decisions you make in a living will.
At Bischoff & Bischoff Law, P.A., we are here to help you understand the role of the power of attorney and what you should consider when you choose one. We help clients in Albuquerque and the surrounding areas of New Mexico, including Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Valencia County, including Los Lunas and Belen. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.