One of the more important estate planning documents is the “power of attorney.” A power of attorney is a notarized document that gives another person, called your “agent,” the authority to handle your personal and business affairs if you are unable to handle them yourself. This may include routine banking, bill paying, etc. Couples often name each other as agent, and older couples are encouraged to name an adult child or friend they can trust to serve as agent. Timing is important in that the document can only be signed by a competent person, so it must be signed before a stroke or other medical condition makes the person unable to sign. Even if you have no current need for the assistance of an agent, having the document in place is recommended. For persons approaching Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related illness, a power of attorney is especially important as it may prevent the need for guardianship or other more formal legal proceedings.