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Like its name suggests, a durable power of attorney can be a powerful long-term legal tool for managing your healthcare and finances during an emergency or other unexpected situation.
But what exactly can a durable power of attorney be used for, and how does it work? Today in Part I, we'll cover the "whats":
A power of attorney is a legal authorization for one person to make decisions on behalf of another. There are generally three different kinds of power of attorney:
The two most common uses for a durable power of attorney are for healthcare decisions and financial decisions.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare is often coupled with a living will, both of which are known as advanced directives. While a living will instructs medical personnel on what to do if you are unable to make decisions regarding your medical care, even the most specific living will cannot cover every possible scenario.
A durable power of attorney allows the person granted the power of attorney (who, depending on your state, may be called the "agent," "proxy, attorney-in-fact," or "surrogate") to perform several important functions, such as:
Some states combine the living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare into a single document called an "advance health care directive."
A durable financial power of attorney gives control of your financial decisions to another person in the event that you are incapacitated. It can be granted to the same person as your power of attorney for healthcare, or to a different person. Depending on the state you live in, this person has different names, but they generally have the same powers, including:
Now that you've gotten a better idea of what a durable power of attorney can do, you may be wondering when a durable power of attorney takes effect, when it ends, and how to get one drafted. We'll answer those important questions tomorrow in Part II of this blog series.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.