What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives a person of your choosing, such as a spouse or family member, the legal authority to take specific actions and to make specific decisions on your behalf such as signing checks to pay your bills or selling a car or home. Your power of attorney can be very broad in scope or can be limited to certain activities.

The difference between this type of document and a durable power of attorney is that a durable power of attorney is valid and stays in effect even if you should become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.

There are two types of durable powers of attorney. A durable power of attorney for finances allows you to appoint a person to manage your financial affairs should you become unable to do so. A durable power of attorney for healthcare allows you to name a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

In most cases, these two legal documents will be prepared in conjunction with a living will or healthcare directive that specifies your wishes as they apply to your medical and end-of-life care.

Is it right for you?

A durable power of attorney for financial affairs and a conservatorship can both grant legal rights to a person to take control of your financial affairs and make financial decisions on your behalf. However, there are some important differences to consider.

A durable power of attorney is executed by you, the principal, before you become incapacitated, and you are able to name the “attorney-in-fact” of your choosing to make financial decisions in your stead. You can only create a durable power of attorney if you’re competent at the time of the document’s creation.

In the case of conservatorship, the Court can appoint conservators, persons who are given the power to make personal decisions for you if it is determined that you are no longer able to meet essential requirements for maintaining your own health and safety. A medical exam by a licensed physician is needed to establish the condition of the individual in question.

Without a durable power of attorney someone would have to petition the court to appoint a conservator which is not only time-consuming and costly, but takes the control of who cares for and makes decisions for you out of your control.

Understanding the benefits

At the Law Office of David W. Foley, located in San Diego California, we can provide you with all of the facts about power of attorney laws. Our experienced estate planning attorneys will assess your individual situation and draw up a durable power of attorney along with a living trust to fit your specific needs.

If you’re looking for an estate planning attorney to set up a durable power of attorney, contact the Law Office of David W. Foley today.

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