Most people think of estate planning as making a plan for what will happen after they pass away, but in fact it encompasses a lot more than that. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you were still living, but somehow incapacitated and unable to manage your own financial affairs? What if you were unconscious and could not express your own desires about your healthcare?
Fortunately, there is an estate planning tool that can help with these scenarios. It is called a durable power of attorney. You may already be familiar with the term “power of attorney,” but if not, here’s a basic summary: A power of attorney is an estate planning document in which one person, referred to as the “principal,” grants certain authority over the management of their affairs to someone they trust. The trusted person who is given authority through the power of attorney can be called the “agent” or the “attorney-in-fact.”
There are different types of power attorney. Among them are the healthcare power of attorney, which authorized the agent to make medical decisions, the general power of attorney, which authorized the agent to make financial decisions, and the limited power of attorney, through which the principal can pick or choose what authority he or she grants the agent.
A regular power of attorney loses its validity in one of three scenarios: when the principal revokes it, when you reach an expiration date that was set during its creation, or when the principal becomes in any way incapacitated. However, power of attorneys can be made durable and a durable power of attorney continues to be valid if the principal becomes incapacitated. This makes it extremely valuable when accidents or health issues arise that prevent the principal from making his or her own decisions.
Having a durable power of attorney in place gives you peace of mind that if something happens to you — whether you lose your mental capacity to a disease like dementia or Alzheimers, or you are in an accident that leaves you in a coma — a trusted person will have the ability to legal act on your behalf and ensure that everything is handled as you would have wanted when you were fully aware and conscious.
Who can help me create a durable power of attorney?
If you want to create a durable power of attorney, it is important to do so with the guidance of an attorney rather than using online forms. An attorney can help you make sure your power of attorney is legally sound and does exactly what you intend for it to do. The Matus Law Group team has extensive experience helping clients with these issues, so please do not hesitate to contact us today.