Why You Need to Execute Durable Power of Attorney Document

Posted on

Oct 08, 2015

Book/Edition

Idaho - Boise and the Treasure Valley

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Adults make decisions every day in life. You make financial decisions such as banking, paying bills, managing debts and dealing with Medicare. You decide whom to socialize with and also choose where to live. You make health care decisions such as consenting to or refusing treatment, obtaining medical records and deciding a course of treatment when ill. But what happens if you are too sick or disabled to manage these decisions? Legally, spouses and family members do not automatically have the right to make decisions on your behalf, and joint ownership is not helpful in handling matters that require your signature. Thankfully, there is a key legal tool for substitute decision making called a Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney means one person (the principal) gives legal authority to another (the agent or attorney-in-fact) to act on behalf of the principal. Durable means the agent can act when the principal loses capacity. A General Durable Power of Attorney permits your agent to manage any part or all of your financial affairs and property. A Health Care Durable Power of Attorney enables your agent to make any or all health care decisions if you become incapacitated. A Living Will allows you to spell out your desired medical treatment regarding life-saving procedures, artificial nutrition and artificial hydration if you become unable to speak for yourself and have a terminal illness, or are in a persistent vegetative state. Choosing the right person as an agent is very important and should be given careful consideration. It should be someone who is trustworthy, honest, knows how to handle money and accepts the responsibility as an agent. This agent owes a duty to the principal called a fiduciary duty, which means the agent has to act in the principals best interest, in good faith and with care, and keep good records. Abuse by an agent or a breach of fiduciary duty can be punishable civilly and criminally. A principal has the control to revoke a Power of Attorney at any time. If you become incapacitated and have not executed a Power of Attorney, a court proceeding called Guardianship and Conservatorship may be needed for someone to obtain decision making authority, which is both time consuming and costly. However, this may be avoided by planning in advance the execution of Durable Power of Attorney documents which give you greater control and freedom of choice in an affordable manner. Donna Schuyler, Attorney.

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