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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Importance of a Durable Power of Attorney

The difficult truth that all of us could really benefit from confronting is the fact that all of us are subject to unpredictable twists and turns in life. We don’t really like to think about this as it means there is only a certain level of control we have over our own lives and that can be very scary, to say the least. The truth remains, however, that none of us are immune to some difficult curve balls thrown our way. Even those of us who are young and in great health can still face a sudden, devastating medical prognosis or be the victim in a debilitating accident. These are things that are largely beyond our control. There are, however, legal protections we can put in place that can be invaluable in the face of the unthinkable occurring. One such legal protection is the durable power of attorney.

The Importance of a Durable Power of Attorney

With a power of attorney, a principal grants authority to an agent to act on his or her behalf. The power granted to an agent can be extremely limited and, in some cases, may be limited to a very specific set of circumstances. For instance, someone who is out of town may have executed a power of attorney so that an agent could attend a real estate closing on his or her behalf. Alternatively, a power of attorney can grant an agent broad powers to handle things such as financial management and health care decision making.

When a power of attorney is durable, it means that the power granted under the document will remain in place even in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated. Without the durability feature, a power of attorney ceases to be effective upon the principal’s incapacitation. Consider the important role a durable power of attorney can play in the event of a person’s incapacitation. Even after incapacitation, the person still has a trusted person to manage his or her affairs. The agent can manage the finances of the incapacitated principal and may be able to do other things like make health care decisions on behalf of the principal, depending on the authority granted by the durable power of attorney.

The fact that there is a trusted individual to continue managing the affairs of the incapacitated individual makes a durable power of attorney one of the most important legal tools you can have as part of your estate plans. Because of the fact that there is already someone with the authority to manage the affairs of the incapacitated individual, a guardianship can be avoided. This is a huge benefit of having a durable power of attorney in place. Guardianships are extremely restrictive as the ward, the incapacitated person under the care of the appointed guardian, loses fundamental rights relating to free will and self-determination. Not only are guardianships restrictive, but they are also complicated and time consuming. The guardianship is subject to court monitoring. Furthermore, guardianship can be very expensive.

Estate Planning Attorney

Do you have a durable power of attorney in place? Do not delay! Verras Law can help. Contact Verras Law today.


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