Creating durable powers of attorney, along with other estate planning tools, can alleviate many of those concerns and provide peace of mind.
Knowing that choices will be made by someone you trust who has your best interest in mind can provide comfort and a powerful sense of control. How can you use a durable power of attorney to achieve these results? Let’s take a closer look.
“Power of attorney” is a legal status granted through documentation that authorizes someone else to make choices on your behalf. The most common situations in which powers of attorney are granted are medical and financial in nature. A power of attorney status can be general (applying to a wide range of authorizations) or limited (applying only to specific authorizations).
A standard power of attorney ends when the person in question becomes incapacitated — usually through illness or mental decline. This can be the exact moment when someone else’s decisions are the most important, however, so a durable power of attorney is a necessary planning tool.
As the name suggests, a “durable” power of attorney lasts beyond a standard one. This authorization remains in effect even when the person is incapacitated through illness, injury, or mental decline.
If someone becomes mentally incapacitated, it can be very challenging for their loved ones to navigate what to do next. Family members often end up in court to have their incapacitated loved one declared incompetent so that they can make necessary financial and medical decisions. This process can be lengthy, delaying important actions. It can also be emotionally draining and a cause for conflicts among family members who do not agree on the best next steps.
A durable power of attorney eliminates the need for these disputes and processes. Instead, an individual is appointed to the role of decision-maker. While the same person is often appointed to act in both medical and financial roles, these powers are typically granted by separate documents: a medical power of attorney and a durable financial power of attorney. It is also common to appoint different people to serve in each role. One person could have a durable power of attorney for medical purposes and another could have a durable power of attorney for financial ones.
We tend to think of a durable power of attorney as someone who steps in to make choices for someone who is near the end of their life. While it is certainly true that those making final plans should have a durable power of attorney in place to make sure their wishes are carried out, that is not the only circumstance that calls for a durable power of attorney. Anyone can become temporarily or permanently incapacitated through illness or accident.
A power of attorney can play a crucial role even when the incapacitated person is expected to make a full recovery. The stress and turmoil of medical and financial decisions without a clear sense of who should make them can cause tensions and disputes between family members. Financial accounts can lose value when there is no one who has access to manage them.
Giving a trusted and reasonable person durable power of attorney can be a helpful way for anyone to make sure their best interests are served in the case of an unexpected disruption to their ability to make decisions for themselves.
In Texas, there are statutory forms available to help establish power of attorney, and these can legally be filled out without a lawyer. However, speaking to a lawyer is always advisable to make sure that the process is completed correctly and in a way that accurately reflects your intentions. Depending on the details of your financial and medical affairs, the situation may require additional forms and considerations that an experienced lawyer can help make sure you understand.
It is particularly important to make sure that durability is specified. It could be quite distressing to think that you have taken care of this important planning element only to find out that your assigned power of attorney was denied access to those authorizations at the moment they were most needed. Having a lawyer assist in preparing your documentation can make sure that your full wishes are being represented in a way that provides the considerations and details exactly as you want them to be.
Whenever you find yourself needing to reach out to our office, you can be sure you won’t need to wait for hours or days in order to get a response. Here at Stafford Law Firm, we pride ourselves on being easily accessible and on responding to all client inquiries as soon as possible.
The fact of the matter is, one day you will need to fall back on your estate plan. Whether it will simply be to pass on your family’s wealth after you pass, or something even more heartbreaking like needing a new guardian appointment for your children, having a thorough and customized plan in place will help make sure your family and your future are well taken care of. This plan should include durable powers of attorney, and you can rest easy knowing that an experienced Houston Durable Power of Attorney Lawyer has your best interests at heart.
Schedule your free consultation right away to discuss your estate planning needs.
The main difference between a standard power of attorney and a durable power of attorney is what happens when the principal becomes incapacitated. With a durable power of attorney, the designated person will still be able to make decisions on the principal’s behalf even when they are incapacitated. This is not the case with a standard power of attorney.
A durable power of attorney can be set up to grant power for medical and/or financial decisions. A durable power of attorney is necessary for medical decisions because if someone becomes incapacitated, it is crucial to know who will make medical decisions on their behalf.
A power of attorney should specifically state the various powers being granted to the agent, and any additional limitations on those powers desired by the principal. The other main consideration has to do with when the power of attorney is no longer valid. This depends on whether or not it is a durable power of attorney.