Why every millennial should have a power of attorney

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No one has a magic crystal ball revealing the exact moment they will need a power of attorney. No one is guaranteed to reach an "old age" before a power of attorney is ever needed.

Here are 10 reasons every millennial should have a power of attorney.

  1. Granting someone the ability to access your bank account. Unless your bank account is a joint account with another person, a bank will not let a parent, family member or partner access your bank account without a financial power of attorney.
  2. Choosing who is able to make financial or health-related decisions. Powers of attorney allow you the ability to name your own agent to make financial and healthcare decisions for you.
  3. You have strong feelings about certain healthcare decisions. For example, you get in a car accident and are rushed the emergency room. In the course of your care, a decision has to be made regarding life-prolonging measures. If you lack a healthcare power of attorney, there is no guarantee your wishes will be followed.
  4. You have very specific ideas about certain medical treatments. For example, you can designate refusal to be given any kind of potentially addictive painkiller, like oxycodone. If you do not have a designated agent to stand up for these wishes, they might not be followed.
  5. You will never be able to create one "when you need it." Powers of attorney come into action when you lack capacity to make your own decisions. Therefore, when you need the document, you lack the capacity to execute one. An agent will have to be appointed for you through the court.
  6. You will prevent arguments and conflicts between family members, partners and friends. If something happens to you, potential agents could have very different ideas about "what you want." Those differing opinions could cause conflicts and heartache for both parties.
  7. Caring for your pet. Naming an agent and specifically granting them the authority to pay for veterinary bills, food, pet daycare, et cetera, ensures your pet is taken care of when you cannot.
  8. Ensuring your bills and monetary obligations are paid. Student loan payments, life insurance, health insurance, car insurance and rent are just a few examples of bills that will need to be paid during your incapacity. If no one has the authority to access your bank account, no one will be able to pay your bills.
  9. Granting access to your medical records and medical bills. HIPAA Waivers deal with the privacy laws surrounding medical records and medical bills. If you have not granted your agent the authority to review or receive your medical records and medical billing information, no one is going to be able to assist in making healthcare decisions for you.
  10. Peace of mind for you and loved ones. Financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney's are the "best insurance" you hopefully never have to use. These documents are written instructions of how to best take care of you and tend to your needs.

Youth brings with it a sense of indestructability. It is hard to imagine being unable to pay your bills and dictate your health decisions, but ask yourself this: How would your life and loved ones be affected if you have no power of attorney?

Rebekah N. Freeman is an associate attorney with Elder Law & Estate Planning Center.

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