The Benefits of a Durable Power of Attorney

January 2, 2016
A lot has been written about elder exploitation through undue influence, hidden transactions, identity theft and the like. To help guard against these dangers, you can establish a durable Power of Attorney.
Colin Austin helps families with estates and elder law.
The Power of Attorney (PoA) is a voluntary delegation of authority by a principal to an agent. The principal authorizes the agent to perform tasks on the principal’s behalf.  The “durability” concept means that powers granted remain valid after mental incapacity of the principal.  Instead, the durable PoA terminates on a stated termination date or event, such as the death of the principal.
Here are important benefits:
1.  It let’s you choose who will make decisions for you.   If you sign a power of attorney and later are unable to make decisions, the agent you have selected can make important financial decisions.
2.  It avoids the need of a guardianship or conservatorship.  If you don’t have a power of attorney, at the time you become incapacitated, you have no alternative than to have someone else petition the court to appoint a guardian or conservator. The court will choose who will manage your financial and health affairs, and the court continues to monitor the situation while you are alive.  This is a costly process, made worse by the fact that you have no input on who is appointed to serve.
3.  It provides an opportunity to discuss wishes and desires with loved ones.  One of the most important decisions in the creation of a power of attorney is who serves as agent.  It’s a good opportunity to discuss wishes and expectations with loved ones and, in particular, the person named as agent.
Nobody can predict what challenges we’ll face as we age. With a Power of Attorney in place, you make sure you have a trustworthy agent to do whatever needs to be done.
his article was contributed by Colin K. Austin, an elder law specialist.  His firm was one of the first in Orange County to be certified “Dementia Friendly.”  Colin can be reached at (919) 904-4698 or colin@colinaustinlaw.com.  See his website for more information.  

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