Your health and age circumstances may make it necessary for you to designate someone to handle your affairs. If you become unable to make decisions, identifying an individual you trust leaves you feeling safe and confident in him or her.
Should you become incapacitated, you cannot make medical decisions. Financial decisions regarding your home, cars or estate need to be decided by an able individual as well. If you do not designate a durable power of attorney, decisions about your health and property may be up to someone you do not necessarily want to deal with your body or possessions. He or she may even be a judge unfamiliar with your life and wishes.
To protect your family from confusion and heartache while you may be unable to communicate, it is essential to establish a durable power of attorney.
Durability is responsible
Two main types of powers of attorney exist.
- General power of attorney (POA): ends after a limited time determined by you
- Durable power of attorney (DPOA): stays in effect after your incapacitation and until your death
DPOAs prove extremely important for ill or elderly people, whom are at a higher risk of becoming sick or dying. DPOAs may be a more responsible decision because they do not require a specific expiration date. Should you recover from your incapacitation, all decision-making ability returns to you.
Who decides if I don’t?
The line of succession, should you choose not to designate a DPOA, occurs as follows.
- A guardian (if a court has appointed one to you)
- A spouse
- An adult child
Yet your situation may not fit this situation perfectly. Perhaps you are unmarried, or your spouse has died. Perhaps you have an estranged relationship with your adult children. In most instances, making a final choice as to whom decides on your behalf leaves you and your DPOA prepared.
The role of the durable power of attorney
Depending on the type of DPOA, the role of your designated DPOA includes responsibilities such as:
- Filing your taxes
- Managing your property
- Making medical decisions
- Paying your bills
- Managing your investments
- Signing important documents
When you die, the DPOA role is extinguished.
Choosing a durable power of attorney now protects your loved ones from confusion in the future. You can discuss your decision with your designated DPOA, and you may also gain peace of mind in determining your ideal person for protecting your property and carrying out your life wishes.