Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose to act and manage your affairs just as you do. If you are ever temporarily or permanently incapacitated, you will need someone that can assist you with handling your medical and financial affairs.
“Durable” simply means that the document stays in effect should you become incapacitated. A basic power of attorney only gives someone authority to act while you are okay and automatically ends should you lose mental capacity. This is why it is important to have the durable power of attorney, and not simply a power of attorney.
This document is extremely important for you to have. If you don’t have a durable power of attorney in effect should you become incapacitated, then your loved ones will have to go to court to get the authority to handle your affairs and you will be placed into a public guardianship, managed by the court at great expense to your loved ones.
There are typically two types of power of attorneys:
Medical Power of Attorney/Healthcare Surrogate
A medical power of attorney sets out your wishes for health care if you are too ill or injured to speak for yourself. You appoint a trusted person to act as your healthcare proxy, also known as your “healthcare surrogate,” and they will oversee and direct your medical and health care decisions when you are unable to do so yourself.
Your healthcare power of attorney will work closely with your doctors and medical professionals to ensure that you get the medical care you need and they are bound to follow your advance wishes which are usually stated in a “Living Will.” The Living Will states how you wish for your medical care and treatment to be conducted and whether you wish to be placed on artificial machines or provided nutrition or hydration via feeding tubes if you are incapacitated or declared brain dead.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney is just like a medical power of attorney but you select a person to manage your financial affairs. This can be the same person as your medical power of attorney or someone completely different, or perhaps, a trust company should your estate be of significant value. This person is usually know as your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.”
You can provide as much authority or as little authority in this power of attorney. You may wish for the person to only be able to manage your mail, bills and handling your day-to-day expenses. You can also allow this person the ability to manage all your financial affairs, which would include selling assets or property.
All of these types of financial and medical decisions are very important to consider and get onto paper when you are able to reflect and have the ability to determine how you wish for your affairs to be handled. Shupe Dhawan has helped many clients considered the alternatives and make informed decisions.