What is Durable Power of Attorney?
The term ‘power of attorney’ has been used a lot throughout the years and it seems the majority of individuals have at least heard of it, even if they don’t know enough about it. Essentially, a legal power of attorney provides one individual the power to act in the place of another with regard to numerous issues, including finances and health care, to name just two.
Having power of attorney over a parent, for example, as they get older and face increasing challenges to manage their own care is a reasonable solution. The adult child or other individual assigned that power of attorney may be able to act on the behalf of their parent in numerous areas, including mortgages, taxes, medical matters, and more.
While that can provide numerous benefits to the senior, a durable power of attorney should also be in place.
As stated on the legal advocacy website NOLO (Law for ALL):
“A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act in your place. In case you ever become mentally incapacitated, you’ll need what are known as “durable” powers of attorney for medical care and finances. A durable power of attorney simply means that the document stays in effect if you become incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own. (Ordinary, or “nondurable,” powers of attorney automatically end if the person who makes them loses mental capacity.)”
This seems to be where many families miss out on this potential opportunity. In the case of a senior becoming injured during an accident, in a coma following a stroke, or from some other emergency situation, a traditional power of attorney will no longer be enough to allow that family member or friend to advocate and conduct affairs on their behalf. A durable power of attorney would need to be in place to allow that individual to continue making decisions and advocating on the senior’s behalf.
In order to maximize the protections, two separate powers of attorney may be more practical, including a durable power of attorney specifically for financial matters and a medical power of attorney that would allow that individual to make medical decisions on behalf of the senior who may not be able to do so on their own due to incapacitation (NOLO).
Fortunately the paperwork involved in creating powers of attorney are not lengthy and are, therefore, cost effective.
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