A durable power of attorney is a crucial document that can help to safeguard and protect your future, giving a trustworthy agent the capacity to make decisions about your health, finances, and property in the event of your incapacity.
Let’s take a closer look at the main reasons you may need a durable power of attorney and just what this looks like. We’ll also share advice on when to use a durable POA.
What Is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A durable power of attorney (POA) is a type of legal document that allows you to instruct and name another individual – who is known as the “agent” – to act on your behalf if the time comes when you can’t make decisions for yourself.
This document is legally binding and will include information on exactly which decisions and actions can be taken on your behalf by the chosen agent. When choosing your agent, it’s, therefore, crucial to choose someone you trust who is familiar with your wishes and values.
One key element of a durable power of attorney is that it will remain in effect even if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself. This is a significant difference from a general power of attorney.
If you have a durable power of attorney, your designated agent will be able to manage your financial and legal affairs without having to go through a court-appointed guardianship process.
Why Should I Get a Durable Power of Attorney?
There are a number of reasons that a Durable Power of Attorney is a preferred choice:
It provides peace of Mind
Having a durable power of attorney in place gives you peace of mind. It lets you know that somebody you trust will handle your affairs appropriately. The agent should be able to make decisions that align with your wishes.
It allows you to choose an individual who knows, understands, and respects your values and preferences. This means that the decisions made on your behalf are likely to be the same ones that you would have chosen if you were able to do so.
It prevents conflicts and disputes
Without a durable power of attorney, families can face long-term conflicts and disputes over who is legally responsible for making decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. This scenario can be stressful and upsetting. It can also cause confusion and delays in treatment or legal processes while parties settle disputes.
Having a durable power of attorney in place can help prevent these conflicts from occurring by clearly specifying who has the legal authority to make decisions in these circumstances.
It offers flexibility and versatility
A durable power of attorney is a flexible document that you can tailor to your specific needs and wishes. You can choose to give your agent broad decision-making authority or limit their authorization to certain tasks. These tasks can include buying and selling property, paying bills, or making key healthcare decisions.
A durable POA will be in place from the moment you sign, and this protects you right away.
It is easy to set up
Creating a durable power of attorney is relatively simple; you can do it with the help of an attorney or other legal professional.
It’s important to make sure that you properly draft and sign the document to ensure it’s legally binding. This is why we recommend using an attorney.
Once complete, you should keep the document in a safe place or provide a copy to your appointed agent.
Are There Any Downsides?
As with any legal process, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks, and some of the main potential downsides of durable power of attorneys include:
It can be abused
The main downside of a durable power of attorney is that you are granting someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf. This can potentially put you in a vulnerable position.
This means that you must have complete trust in the person you appoint as your agent. After all, they have the power to act as you legally. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure that they understand and will abide by your wishes.
The person whom you appoint as your agent may abuse the power of attorney by making decisions that are not in your best interest or that conflict with your wishes, and this can cause you financial concerns. For example, if they are spending your money without your authority in ways you wouldn’t want. Or, there can be even more serious consequences – especially if they are permitted to make decisions over health.
It’s important to choose an individual who is trustworthy and responsible and make sure they understand their obligations before granting them power of attorney.
The Bottom Line
A durable power of attorney is an important legal document that gives you peace of mind and flexibility in the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It can help prevent costly and time-consuming court proceedings, as well as family disputes while ensuring that your wishes are respected, and it’s important to use a professional attorney to help you draw up your document.
Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned business and law blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable articles with the audience.