Why You Need a Durable Power of Attorney
An important part of estate planning that you may not think about at first is selecting a durable power of attorney. Most people have heard of a power of attorney, but this is different from a durable power of attorney. So, whether you want to know what a durable power of attorney is or looking for tips to select one, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into the basics of a durable power of attorney, why you need one, and tips for selecting the right person.
Durable Power of Attorney vs. General Power of Attorney
A traditional power of attorney is different from a durable power of attorney. Both are important for specific situations but serve different purposes. A general or standard power of attorney is a person you choose to handle your affairs and make decisions while still alive and competent. You have a lot of say as to what powers they have. However, if you become incapacitated, a traditional power of attorney no longer has decision-making power. This is why you need a durable power of attorney in place.
A durable power of attorney is someone close to you that you designate to make your financial decisions if you become mentally incapacitated or disabled. This person can make payments on your behalf and has full access to your assets. Choosing a reliable durable power of attorney is an integral part of planning for incapacity in your estate plan.
Importance of a Durable Power of Attorney
Most people plan for their assets and families to be taken care of after death, but what if you become incapacitated in an accident or due to a medical condition? You are still alive but unable to make your own decisions, so someone must make decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney fills this role and can prevent a great deal of stress during a difficult time. You will also have peace of mind that your affairs are handled accordingly.
One of the most important reasons for a durable power of attorney is that a person you know and trust will be the one making decisions for you. No one wants a third party to be given control over your assets and decisions. Selecting a durable power of attorney in your estate plan with an estate planning attorney avoids that from happening. You also have the ability to discuss your wishes with the person you select, so in case something happens, they feel more empowered with making your decisions.
How to Select a Durable Power of Attorney
You should carefully consider who to select as your durable power of attorney. This person should know you deeply and be reliable and trustworthy. It’s also wise to choose another one or two individuals to serve as backups if your first choice for durable power of attorney is unable or unwilling to serve. Take time to have a conversation with each person you select and make sure they are willing to perform this role if needed.
For married couples, you can be each other’s durable power of attorney. This makes it easier to handle assets solely in the incapacitated spouse’s name or sell assets with joint ownership between the spouses. It’s also very important to select backup durable power of attorneys in case both spouses are incapacitated. For example, parents with adult children can also choose their child to be a durable power of attorney.
As life goes on and relationships change, you may need to change who you designate as your durable power of attorney. You can revoke a durable power of attorney and change the terms or designated person. Recovering from your incapacity is another reason to cancel a durable power of attorney.
Each person’s estate, assets, and needs are unique, so it’s essential to consult with an estate planning attorney about your durable power of attorney. Estate planning lawyers at Merriman Law Firm will guide you on your options, necessary forms, and how to make sure your exact wishes are honored. Set up a free initial consultation today to start the process.
Merriman Law Firm is your team of expert legal professionals to counsel and engage clients with estate planning, trust administration, gift tax planning, estate and probate administration, as well as litigation in probate, guardianship, estate, and trust. We aim to empower and engage our clients through education to make the right decisions for themselves and their families. Completing an estate plan is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give your family. Your family will be able to act according to your wishes upon your death or incapacity. So start your estate plan today with Merriman Law Firm.
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