A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that enables you to appoint an agent to act legally on your behalf. The agent can be as family member, a trustworthy friend, an advisor or an institution like a bank that will handle specific legal, health and financial responsibilities when you are alive but incompetent to handle these affairs on your own. A POA becomes durable only when the word “durable” is indicated on the document and allows the designated agent to act on your behalf even when you become incapacitated or die. Some of the reasons for having a durable power of attorney are:
It allows you to choose your own agent ahead of time
You can come up with a power of attorney document only when it is confirmed that you are of sound mind. You, therefore, need a durable power of attorney now so that you have the freedom to choose who you would like to be your agent. In the event that you become incapacitated, only a judge can make that choice for you. For many people, the ability to make this choice on their own is very important. Additionally, without a durable power of attorney, the courts are supposed to appoint a guardian who will then handle your affairs. Establishing a guardianship is more expensive compared to coming up with a durable power of attorney.
To discuss your intentions and healthcare choices with an agent now
While choosing an agent for the durable power of attorney, you get to discuss your expectations and desires with the agent. This opportunity is invaluable because drafting this document ensures that your planning attorney makes sure that your needs as you grow older are put into consideration. A comprehensive durable power of attorney addresses any necessary issues such as long-term healthcare and even government benefits.
To avoid confusion and disagreements
A durable power of attorney leaves no room for confusion and arguments regarding how your personal affairs are to be handled. This prevents arguments, squabbles and disagreements among family members with regards to how your legal, healthcare and financial matters are to be handled. As you can imagine, when a loved becomes ill or dies, family members should not be wasting time arguing over what is to be done with the loved one’s personal affairs. Planning ahead ensures that such a situation does not arise.
Provides a degree of asset protection
To protect your assets, a durable power of attorney comes in handy, especially if you are taken to a nursing home. Before becoming a resident in a nursing home, you should outline how payment for the nursing home services will be made lest your assets become subject to payment for the nursing home services. With a proper durable power of attorney, your estate planning attorney will ensure that your assets are protected.
Allows you to appoint successor agents
A durable power of attorney spells out what is to be done if something happens to the agent you had chosen. By appointing more than one successor agent, there is no void left when something happens to your first choice of an agent.
A matter of convenience
Many a times, a durable power of attorney is used as a matter of convenience. For example, if you have listed one of your assets for sale and have also organized to be away on a long trip, if a buyer comes along while you are away, the agent you appointed could act on your behalf to negotiate the sale and sign any needed documents. This makes the deal binding. You can plan a durable power of attorney so that it is effective up until the day you come back from your trip and can specify all the conditions that your agent must adhere to such as the minimum sale price that will be acceptable to you.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney at Bandre, Hunt and Snider in Jefferson City, MO. Bandre, Hunt and Snider are the best attorneys Jefferson City MO have to offer.