We believe that one of the most important documents you can have is a Durable Power of Attorney. Unfortunately, we find that people sometimes avoid signing this vital form because they think it means that someone else will have control over their healthcare and finances immediately. This is simply not true.
You Are in Control of Your Power of Attorney
When you create a Power of Attorney, you are the principal, and the person you name is your agent. That means that you are still in charge of your business, but your agent can act on your behalf according to your wishes. There are a couple of types of Powers of Attorney and, when you work with an attorney to draft one, they can be tailored to your exact wishes. The two general types of documents you want to have are:
- Healthcare Power of Attorney. If you are incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself, your appointed agent will make them for you. This document does not give the agent the power to put you in a nursing home against your will.
- Financial Power of Attorney. The agent named in this document can conduct your financial business, including paying bills, getting account information, and more—at your request or on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
Many people name the same person for both of these roles, but they can be separated if that makes more sense in your situation. A Power of Attorney can be written so that it is only in effect if you become incapacitated (“springing”), or it can be written without this requirement. The advantage of the latter, or immediate Power of Attorney, is that your agent will not have to go through the process of proving your incapacity with a judge in order to help you. With this type of Power of Attorney, your agent can help you out whenever and however you need them to. You obviously must completely trust your agent to always act in your best interest, but why would you appoint someone you didn’t entirely trust for this important role in the first place? If you do not have someone you trust to this extent, you may want a more limited Power of Attorney.
We Will Help You Create the Document That’s Right for You
There is a lot to consider when naming a Power of Attorney and drafting the document, but our team will talk you through all of your options and help you draft a document that makes sense for you. A Power of Attorney is never set in stone—you can make changes whenever you wish—so there is no reason not to get something in place now. Call one of our offices to discuss this essential estate planning document today.