Estate planning is a necessity for everyone in the Phoenix LGBT community. Whether you are single, in a partnership, or married, you and your loved ones will benefit from a power of attorney. A power of attorney gives another designated individual the legal right to act on your behalf. There are two main types of power of attorney: a health care power of attorney and a durable power of attorney. These documents determine who will be able to make medical and financial decisions when you are incapable of doing so yourself.
It is critical to take care of these documents before an emergency arises. Creating a plan ahead of time will help your family and loved ones respond quickly and efficiently if a crisis does occur.
LGBT Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney allows you to choose who will make health care decisions on your behalf when you become too ill, disabled, or incapacitated to make those decisions on your own. You can decide to grant your agent full authority to make decisions or limit your agent to specific powers. Some examples of decisions that you can authorize your agent to make include: picking medical providers, consenting to medical procedures, and approving your admittance to health care institutions or nursing homes.
What Happens If You Don’t Have an LGBT Health Care Power of Attorney?
If you do not have a health care power of attorney, Arizona state law will determine who can make medical decisions for you. In Phoenix, the following people take priority:
- A spouse.
- An adult child. If there is more than one adult child, the health care provider will seek the consent of the majority of the children.
- A parent.
- A domestic partner, if unmarried.
- A brother or sister.
- A close friend.
- The health care provider after consultation with an “institutional ethics committee.”
This can be a problem for some LGBT individuals who may be estranged from their legal family. Many individuals in the LGBT community create a family of choice composed of trusted and valued friends. Sometimes the individuals that know you the best are not legally recognized. Someone in your immediate family might be given control of your health care decisions, even if their choices would go against your true wishes.
LGBT Durable Power of Attorney
An LGBT durable power of attorney, also known as a financial power of attorney, ensures that your finances will be kept under control if you become incapacitated. It is a legal document that allows you to designate an agent to manage your property and finances if you become legally incapacitated. You can define precisely what authority you want your agent to have, including for example:
- Paying bills,
- Accessing bank accounts,
- Handling retirement accounts,
- Leasing and selling property,
- Changing beneficiary designations, and
- Modifying trusts.
A non-married partner or trusted friend will find it extremely difficult to take care of important legal and financial transactions without this document.
What Happens If You Don’t Have an LGBT Durable Power of Attorney?
If you do not have a durable power of attorney in Phoenix and become incapacitated, a relative or loved one will have to petition the court to be appointed guardianship or conservatorship. This court process can be time- consuming and expensive. Before the court process is complete, no one will have the authority to access your accounts or act on your behalf. It can drain your family and friends of resources at a very stressful time.
If there is a conflict between family members, the process will become even more expensive, and someone you may not have wanted to handle your finances can be appointed. Additionally, the court proceedings will become public record.
Keeping Documents Up to Date
It is essential to review your power of attorney with a Phoenix estate planning attorney every couple of years or after any significant life changes, like marriage, death, or relocation. You must ensure that your powers of attorney are up to date with your current wishes and state law. These documents are not set in stone. They can be modified or revoked.
Your Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney
If you have questions about creating a power of attorney in Phoenix, you should reach out to Nicole Pavlik Law Firm. A power of attorney is an important estate planning tool that can save your family a lot of heartaches. Call Nicole Pavlik Law Firm today at 602-635-6176 for a free consultation.