Having a durable power of attorney is important for several reasons, but the primary reason is because it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that someone will be there to take care of your finances and estate if you are injured or unable to do so on your own. A durable power of attorney expires upon death, but until then, that individual can be granted the power to take care of you and your estate.
A durable power of attorney stays in effect when you are incapacitated. That means that if you are involved in a serious car crash and end up in a coma or are unable to manage your own finances due to dementia, for example, the agent you assigned will be able to take care of your personal matters for you.
A durable power of attorney should be a part of your estate plan
Whether you're in your 40s, 60s or 80s, it's a good time to talk about setting up a durable power of attorney. Why? This individual will be there for you if you're hurt or incapacitated. They will act as your agent, taking care of business as you recover from an illness or injury. If you are struggling with an illness that impacts your ability to make decisions on your own, they may also be able to step in at that time.
What kinds of things can durable power of attorney agents do?
You set the limits for any agent you assign, so you control how much they can or cannot do. However, some common things for them to do include:
- Helping you manage your real estate assets
- Investing on your behalf
- Transferring or selling assets from your estate
- Operating your business
- Paying medical expenses
- Paying your utilities or bills
- Making sure your taxes are filed and paid
- Collecting retirement benefits for you
- Choosing and buying insurance on your behalf
Keep in mind that the agent doesn't have free range to do whatever they want. They do need to act in your best interests.
You can also choose to set up two different power of attorney agents, one for financial purposes and another for medical. Doing this could be beneficial if the people you choose specialize in different areas, but there could also be conflicts. This is something to consider and one thing you may want to discuss with your attorney as you decide on the agents you want to put into place.