A durable power of attorney grants another person the ability to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are no longer able to make these decisions yourself. This includes your medical decisions, legal choices, or financial or business decisions.
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A durable power of attorney names an agent who can make medical, legal, financial, and business decisions for you. This is usually a trusted family member or loved one who can act on your behalf.
If you and your agent disagree on a decision, you still have the final say. People often choose a POA because they need assistance managing their finances or medical decisions. Depending on your situation, you may want to name a separate agent for medical decisions and financial decisions.
A durable power of attorney is different from a springing power of attorney. Durability simply means that the power of attorney does not expire if you become mentally incompetent or unconscious. The agent still retains authority to make decisions.
Power of attorney with durability provisions
Enduring power of attorney
Who should use this form?
Anyone can create a power of attorney, at any time. Attorneys recommend you complete this document as soon as possible, in order to ensure that someone you trust is can your medical and financial care if you’re suddenly unable to, especially if you have a large estate.
The person who creates the form is called the principal, and the person who becomes able to make decisions on their behalf is called the agent or attorney-in-fact
What to include in a durable power of attorney form
You can give both medical and financial power of attorney to the same person, but you might prefer to choose 2 people who are uniquely suited to the responsibilities you're giving them.
In regards to healthcare, the agent can make arrangements for your care, hire and fire medical professionals, access your medical records, and represent your wishes in court if necessary. It's crucial to share your wishes with your agent in full detail. The agent you name for healthcare decisions needs to know about any medical conditions that you have. This agent should understand your wishes regarding end-of-life care and artificially prolonging life as well.
Your agent can also handle your finances. They can take care of your social security checks, retirement funds, investments, tax returns, and financial accounts. You should choose someone with good business acumen and a talent for responsibly managing money as your financial agent. This doesn't necessarily require an intimate understanding of your health or personal beliefs.
There are additional documents that you should consider preparing alongside your durable power of attorney. This includes a living trust, living will, and last will and testament. An attorney can help you understand the differences between these documents if you're uncertain.
Your durable power of attorney should be signed, witnessed, and notarized. Some states require you file this document with your state and with your healthcare provider.