As you work with an estate planning attorney, you may come across the term, “durable power of attorney.” This term is often interchanged with the term, “power of attorney.” Both refer to giving permission to another person or entity to make important decisions on your behalf, but there are important distinctions between the two. As a party working on a responsible and reasonable estate plan, it’s essential that you understand all the aspects of a durable power of attorney.
What a Power of Attorney Actually Is
A durable power of attorney is a physical legal document. Your estate planning attorney will draw up the Durable Power of Attorney document in accordance with your wishes. The name is a little misleading because the power to make decisions needn’t go to an actual attorney. The power can be given to a trusted family member or trusted family friend. In some cases, the power is given to the actual estate planning attorney. However, in all cases, the “agent,” or the person receiving the durable power, must be an adult over the age of 18 years old at the time the document is drawn up.
How Does a Durable Power of Attorney Differ From Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney is a subtype of a Power of Attorney, with one very important caveat. The Durable Power of Attorney covers instances where the individual has become temporarily or permanently incapacitated from injury, accident, or illness, either physically or mentally. This means that even if a person becomes incapable of making sound, rational decisions for themselves, the individual named in the Durable Power of Attorney has full legal recourse to make those decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. As you can see, whom you choose for your Durable Power of Attorney is extremely vital.
What Kinds of Decisions are Included in a Durable Power of Attorney?
There are different kinds of Durable Power of Attorney documents. The kinds of decisions covered determine the type of Durable Power of Attorney. Your estate planning attorney can draw up paperwork covering decisions related to healthcare, finances, care for dependents, and more. Items may include:
- selling, buying, and managing estate assets
- control over banking and investment accounts
- filing tax returns
- applying for benefits such as Medicaid, Medicare, etc.
- arranging home health care, hospice care, palliative care, etc.
- choosing healthcare providers
- making decisions related to life support, resuscitation, etc.
Benefits of Having a Durable Power of Attorney in Place
Many families and individuals seek out an estate planning attorney to get a Durable Power of Attorney drawn up. The benefits of having this document include having a third party ready to make important, possible life-saving decisions for an individual who can’t make them. With a Durable Power of Attorney, private decisions can be kept out of a courtroom, where a judge would make those decisions instead.
If you have a family member who may be incapacitated or you simply want an extra layer of protection for your family members, contact Beasley & Ferber today.