When it comes to planning for your future care, designating someone as power of attorney may seem like a difficult choice. First off, what can a power of attorney do? Does it mean you give up all your rights to the person you designate?

Knowing what a power of attorney can and cannot do is the first step in deciding the person (or people) who will carry this responsibility for you.

A power of attorney cannot take your money

One designation for a power of attorney is over your finances. This document gets triggered in the event you become incapacitated for a short period or longer. A financial power of attorney is the person who pays your bills and takes care of your bank accounts for you. However, this does not give that person the right to clean out your bank account or sell off investments, unless she or he can show that doing so is necessary. Typically, these extreme actions only take place in the case of long-term hospital or nursing home care.

A power of attorney can make end-of-life decisions

A medical power of attorney designates a person who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. For example, if you have heart surgery and the doctors find another issue, a medical power of attorney will wind up deciding how the doctors handle it. If you have a living will, a medical power of attorney may also get designated to carry out your final requests as far as long-term care.

A power of attorney only carries out your wishes

You designate the person or persons who will care for your finances and medical decisions. In creating power of attorney documents, you will also develop plans for what you want these decisions to look like. While you cannot plan for every scenario, you can prepare for the major ones. Make your wishes known, and a power of attorney need only follow what you laid out.

Designating a power of attorney does not need to stress you out. Consider who you believe is best suited to carry out your wishes, and know that the person has limited power over your health and finances.