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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Importance of a Durable Power of Attorney

What is a durable power of attorney?

A durable power of attorney (POA) allows you to appoint a trusted loved one to make vital health and financial decisions in the event you are ever incapacitated.  All thorough estate plans should include two or more power of attorneys to ensure their health and finances are protected no matter what the future holds.  Without these important documents in place, the court may be forced to order a Conservator to be your decision maker.  A conservatorship is expensive and there are no guarantees the court will appoint someone whom you would select.  You can avoid ever needing a conservatorship by drafting a durable power of attorney today.

Power of Attorney for Healthcare

There are two basic types of power of attorneys: a power of attorney for healthcare and a power of attorney for finances.  In a durable POA for healthcare, you will name an individual who will make all decisions about your healthcare if you cannot make these decisions yourself.  Incapacity could arise from a severe accident, dementia, or a condition that prevents you from making reasoned healthcare decisions.

A healthcare POA is different from a living will.  In your living will, you express your desires for healthcare treatment if you are permanently unconscious or terminally ill.  A healthcare power of attorney, on the other hand, gives broad authorization to make all healthcare decisions if you are not deemed competent to do so, which may include conditions beyond those that involve end of life care.

Power of Attorney for Finances

With a durable financial power of attorney, you will name an individual who will manage your finances if you become incapacitated.  Your power of attorney will only take effect if you cannot make decisions by yourself.  Your financial agent will be able to perform crucial financial tasks, like paying your bills and expenses, managing your assets, and investing on your behalf.  Absent a power of attorney for finances, the court may be forced to appoint someone to manage your affairs—at a cost.  Contact an estate planning attorney in your area today to get started creating a healthcare and financial power of attorney.


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