The Importance of Durable Power of Attorney

As you make your way through life, you get accustomed to making your own decisions. If you have entered your senior years, you have been making your own decisions for decades, and you take a certain amount of pride in making the right choices for yourself and your family. However, the reality is that a time may come when making important choices will no longer be within your capabilities.

The Basics

If you reach a point where you become incapacitated (dementia, for example) or incapable of making decisions (unconscious after accident), you’ll want to have someone you trust assigned durable power of attorney to handle decisions and tasks for you. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives specific, or wide-ranging, control of some aspect of your life and property to someone else. You, as the “grantor,” are granting power to one or more persons, who are known as your “agents” or “attorneys-in-fact.” That transfer of power is immediate; right after the document is legally completed.  In other words, you don’t have to be deemed incompetent for your agents to act. So you want to be sure the person or persons named have your best interests in mind now and in the future. You can name one person as your attorney-in-fact with one or more backups, or you can decide that two or more persons can act as your agents either independently or jointly. It’s best to talk these options over with an attorney who works predominantly in estate planning, so you understand all the options that fit your situation.

You do have the ability to amend or revoke your durable power of attorney at any time by completing another with language that this new document supersedes any and all previous durable powers of attorney.

Types of DPOA

Durable power of attorney documents generally fall into a couple of categories.

The most common is the general durable power of attorney, which, depending on the language, can be all-encompassing. So you can grant powers to your agent to control your banking accounts, investment accounts, buying and selling real estate or property, entering into contracts, and making healthcare decisions.

Special power of attorney documents are more limited. The powers might be narrowed to handling real estate transactions, such as the sale of a house in California while you are across the country buying a house in Florida.

Healthcare power of attorney is just what it sounds like. The powers allow your agent to talk to doctors and specialists regarding your healthcare. This may become especially important if you are involved in an accident where you are unable to communicate or understand your situation. Your named agent would be empowered to make decisions for you.

Simple but Important

Completing a durable power of attorney can be as simple as deciding who you trust and filling out a form to have the document drafted. But an experienced estate planning attorney can walk you through the thought process of choosing what is best for you, your family and your unique situation. To reach all your durable power of attorney goals, contact Mortellaro Law to schedule a fre