Power of Attorney

Estate planning involves planning for all possible future events, including those which a person may not want to consider. Unfortunately, many people become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves due accidents, illnesses, or other medical conditions. When this occurs, it is helpful to have a durable power of attorney in place for various decisions. A durable power of attorney is a type of document that gives another person the power to make decisions on your behalf and is “durable” because it remains in effect after a person has become incapacitated. While a will or a trust can address what happens to your estate after a person passes away, powers of attorney ensure that things are properly managed in the event that a person can no longer handle his or her own affairs. There are two kinds of powers of attorney that are commonly used – those for healthcare and those for financial decisions, which are both discussed below.

Durable Power of Attorney for Decisions Related to Healthcare

A power of attorney document for healthcare designates an individual to make healthcare decisions on a person’s behalf should he or she become incapacitated. These decisions can relate to various issues, including the type of treatment that you will receive and whether any extraordinary measures should be used to address your medical condition, as well as others. While these kinds of documents are available online, it is best to have an attorney review any power of attorney that you wish to create in order to make sure that it is enforceable, fully addresses your concerns, and accurately reflects your wishes regarding the healthcare you may receive in the future.

Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions

A financial power of attorney document gives another person the power to make financial decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person. In many cases, having a financial durable power of attorney is significantly easier than pursuing a guardianship after a person has already become capacitated. These kinds of documents go into effect when they are signed or only go into effect once a person has become incapacitated (certified by 2 physicians). There are many kinds of financial decisions and actions that a person who has financial power of attorney (referred to as an “agent”) can make, including the following:

  • Use assets to pay for day-to-day expenses
  • Maintain, buy, sell, or rent out real estate
  • Make investment decisions
  • Collect public benefits such as social security or VA benefits
  • Manage bank accounts
  • Handle issues related to taxes
  • Hire an attorney to represent the incapacitated individual
  • Transfer property into an existing trust
  • Run a business on your behalf

Contact a Power of Attorney Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Options

Powers of attorney for healthcare and financial decisions are a critical part of any estate plan and are often overlooked by many people who are planning for the future. To ensure that any powers of attorney that you would like to create are valid, enforceable, and tailored to your needs, speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer today.