A power of attorney grants another person the legal authority to make financial, legal, or medical decisions on your behalf. This person is known as your agent. There are several different types of powers of attorney. A non-durable power of attorney takes effect immediately, but terminates when you become incapacitated, and may not be of much use if you are looking to ensure someone can make medical decisions on your behalf when you need them to do so. In contrast, were you aware that a durable power of attorney takes effect immediately and stays in effect even if you become incapacitated, terminating only upon your death? Let us take a moment to discuss a few reasons why you should have a strong durable power of attorney.
- Making medical decisions. Most married people choose their spouse as their agent. This makes sense if you trust your spouse to make decisions on your behalf. If, however, you are getting on in years, or if you and your spouse intend to undertake remote or risky travel together, it would be prudent to nominate a secondary choice or “successor agent” with a durable power of attorney for your healthcare. Therefore, if you and your spouse became incapacitated at the same time, you still have a trusted agent able to act on your behalf and make important medical decisions that may become necessary. Your agent might have to make difficult end-of-life decisions on your behalf, so choose someone who will not likely be overwhelmed by the task.
- Figuring out finances. Your agent should be someone you trust who also has the financial acumen to make investment decisions or pay your bills for you if you become incapacitated. A strong durable power of attorney can help ensure that your agent can do these things for you.
- Security for your future. A durable power attorney can give you peace of mind. Someone you trust can be put in the position of making critical decisions on your behalf rather than a stranger. You may be hesitant to choose an agent because you are not sure if you will change your mind. The best decision may be to pick the right agent for right now, knowing you can change your mind at any time. Just call your attorney and let them know you would like to choose a new agent and take care of the necessary paperwork.
A durable power of attorney can be a valuable legal tool to have in place. For assistance establishing a durable power of attorney, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.