As you go through the estate planning process, you will come across a variety of strategies for making life better on you and your family. If you want to make the most of your plan, it’s important that you consider every available option. This means learning as much as possible about a durable power of attorney, as this may be just what you need.
In short, a durable power of attorney gives you the opportunity to appoint an agent, such as a friend or relative, who will handle particular tasks if you are unable to do so on your own.
For example, if you are incapacitated due to injury or illness, your agent has the legal right to step in and take on duties related to health, financial, and legal decisions.
Since you are giving away so much power, it goes without saying that you need to think long and hard about whether or not a durable power of attorney is the right choice for you. Taking this one step further, you have to be 100 percent confident in the person you name as your agent.
Generally speaking, there are two types of durable power of attorney.
- Power of attorney for healthcare. This gives the agent the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf.
- Power of attorney for finances. This gives the agent the authority to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf.
At this point, you may be thinking one thing: you don’t want to give up the power to make your own decisions. While this is a common fear, you have to take into consideration that you remain in charge unless you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your own.
Choosing an Agent
There are many challenges associated with the creation of a durable power of attorney, with choosing an agent at the top of the list. If you don’t know what goes into this, you may select a person that doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
Don’t choose an agent with the idea that he or she will never have to make decisions for you. Instead, make this choice with the idea that your agent will absolutely have to act in this capacity at some point. This is the best way to ensure that you are comfortable with your choice.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you attempt to choose an agent:
- Who can you trust to follow your directions and carry about your wishes?
- Who is responsible enough to handle this task during a difficult time?
- Are you comfortable with the idea that the person will probably be in good health even if you aren’t?
By answering these types of questions, it becomes easier to trim your list in an attempt to make a final decision.
It is easy to believe that you don’t need a durable power of attorney when you are young, but nothing could be further from the truth. Remember, an accident or illness could strike at any time. If this happens, there could come a point when you are unable to make your own decisions.
If you become incapacitated without a durable power of attorney in place, your family will not be able to immediately takeover to make important decisions on your behalf. Instead, they will have to go through a lengthy court process.
Many people understand the benefits of a durable power of attorney, but there are some who never learn as much as they should. Instead, they feel that everything will be fine as they have no plans on becoming incapacitated.
You don’t know what the future will bring, so it’s best that you prepare for everything. This means coming to grips with the fact that you could one day become incapacitated to the point of not being able to make your own decisions.
If you have any questions about this arrangement or other estate planning details, don’t hesitate to sign up for one of our free seminars. Doing so is a great way to learn more about estate planning, including the steps you can take to put yourself and your family in a better position. We hope to see your face at a future event!