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What happens if you don't have a Power of Attorney?

Though the rules in every state are different, what usually happens is the court steps in. The process is similar to what occurs if you die without a will, and can be draining, costly, and time-consuming for all involved.

The court will establish a conservatorship or guardianship and appoint someone to take care of your medical and financial decisions for you. This person will be called a conservator or guardian. And even though the court will often appoint a close family member to this role, there are a few important reasons you should avoid this.

Disadvantages to not having a Power of Attorney

The first disadvantage is the process itself. As we mentioned, the judicial steps that lead to the appointment of a conservator or guardian can take quite a while. They can drain your friends and family of time and money at a difficult time.

The second disadvantage is that you have no say in who the court will appoint. Whomever the court appoints will have broad authority to act on your behalf. Although this person may be close to you, they might not be responsible enough to make those decisions.

For example, you may not want your closest relative to make these choices for you. Or, alternatively, you may not want the same person making medical decisions—such as whether or not to resuscitate you—and financial ones—such as how to run your business, which charities to donate to, etc.

How to create a Power of Attorney

If you want full control over those decisions, creating a Power of Attorney is a smart idea. You can create a single, broad Power of Attorney (known as a general POA) or separate, special documents to deal with certain issues. We can help you create your Power of Attorney online with our simple, step-by-step process.

Remember: A Power of Attorney is not a substitute for a Last Will and Testament. A good estate plan often includes both.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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