Durable Power of Attorney

How many of us have thought about what would happen to us if one day we lost the ability to speak or get out of bed, or recall previous events? What would you do? Would you be protected? This is a situation that most people will encounter as they deal with increasing health issues that come with age.

One way to protect your interests or that of your loved one is with a Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney is one of the most important documents anyone can have in place in the event they are unable to care for themselves. This document allows you to appoint someone to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. By designating someone to act on your behalf in legal, financial, and healthcare matters if you become incapacitated, you will protect your assets and your family in a worst-case situation.

Regardless of whether your incapacity is permanent or merely temporary, a power of attorney can work for you. However, the power of attorney must be designated as “durable” if you want it to remain in effect after you are determined to be incapacitated. Having a Durable Power of Attorney in place can have many advantages, but the most important ones include:

  • Allow you to select your agent – Being able to choose an agent to handle your personal matters on your behalf allows you to bestow these critical decisions on someone you trust. Otherwise, if you do not select that person now, and you later become incapacitated, a judge will make that decision for you.
  • Discuss your wishes and intentions with your agency now – The ability to discuss your desires and expectations with your family while you still can is invaluable. If you create a comprehensive power of attorney, you can address any necessary issues.
  • Avoid family disputes – A well-drafted durable power of attorney can help you prevent confusion and ambiguity as to how your personal affairs, such as your financial and healthcare matters, should be handled.
  • Provide asset protection – Asset protection becomes even more important when the need arises for nursing home services. By taking action to protect your assets now, you can avoid the possibility of your property being taken in order to pay for the nursing home services.

There are specific steps that must be taken in order to properly shelter your assets, even if you are using a durable power of attorney. The process is quite complex, however, if your estate planning attorney drafts a suitable durable power of attorney, including gifting provisions, then asset protection can be accomplished.