A durable power of attorney, also known as a POA or DPOA, is a written document in which you, as the principal, designate someone you trust to be your "attorney in fact" or agent if you're unable to act on your own behalf.
If the POA is durable, this means the role will be in effect during the time that you're disabled or incapacitated. However, not all POAs are durable, so you must specifically state that yours is—otherwise, the designated individual won't be able to uphold your
interests when you're unable to do so.
The Duties of a Durable Power of Attorney
Your attorney in fact is authorized to perform certain actions on your behalf. You may grant this individual as much or as little power as you see fit. For example, you may give your attorney in fact the ability to make all financial decisions while you are not able to; or you may only allow this agent to pay your monthly expenses.
You can appoint any adult you choose to be your Durable Power of Attorney. Many people designate spouses, other family members, friends, or financial or legal professionals as their powers of attorney.
Generally, a Power of Attorney terminates on the disability of the principal. In other words, once you're able to make decisions again, then you'll be legally entitled to do so and your attorney in fact will no longer have this legal responsibility.
Consider Assigning a Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney can be hugely important when trying to move assets for a spouse seeking Medicaid benefits. However, in order for you to realize this benefit, your DPOA must specifically allow for such transfers. Much do-it-yourself Durable Power of Attorneys or fill-in-the-blank durable power of attorney forms don't include this provision, but an experienced estate planning lawyer can make sure that your DPOA meets all of your reasonably-anticipated needs.
To make a durable power of attorney part of your comprehensive estate plan, please contact us at 978-657-7437 to schedule a Strategic Planning Session.