As with almost every major decision in life, there are pros and cons of Durable Power of Attorney. If you’re in the process of estate planning, here are some factors you should consider before deciding on a Durable Power of Attorney.
Advantages of Preparing a Durable Power of Attorney
There are many advantages of having a Durable Power of Attorney to handle your affairs if you become mentally incapacitated. Some examples of the benefits of a Durable Power of Attorney:
- With a Durable Power of Attorney your family or loved ones will be cared for if you are unable to do so.
You may have children, aging parents, a spouse, or others you care for financially. By having a Durable Power of Attorney, you can ensure that the people you love don’t have to worry about finances or what will happen to them.
This is an especially important consideration if you’re the primary financial person in your household or main provider of income.
- A Durable Power of Attorney will alleviate the stress of going to court.
Say you have selected two different people – one person to handle your financial matters as your Financial Power of Attorney and another person to help make health care decisions as your Medical Power of Attorney.
Unfortunately, if you were to become mentally incapacitated, these individuals’ authority to make decisions on your behalf would automatically become invalid, requiring them to go to court and petition for those rights. In some instances, these rights are granted; other times, there may be a complex legal battle.
By specifying your Durable Powers of Attorney prior to any mentally incapacitating injury, illness or impact of aging, you can mitigate this stress.
- A Durable Power of Attorney lifts some of the emotional anguish and burden off your loved ones. If you are mentally incapacitated, there is a chance you may never recover.
If you have not specified how you want your health care needs met or medical treatment delivered prior to becoming mentally incapacitated, your loved ones may face an incredible amount of emotional stress about what to do.
Many times you hear about people who say, “I don’t want to live in a vegetative state – turn off my life support system if I’m ever in that situation,” but they never get it in writing. This delivers a complicated choice for your loved ones. On top of that, there might be conflict among your loved ones about the best way to handle your care.
By selecting Durable Power of Attorney and detailing your wishes, you will reduce a great deal of this burden off of your family.
Disadvantages of Having a Durable Power of Attorney
If your Durable Power of Attorney declaration is too broad and you have given the same individual medical and financial powers, your assets will be under their control. Be 100% sure about the trustworthiness of the person or people you select to ensure that your finances and medical decisions are handled exactly as you wish them to be.
- Once you select a Durable Power of Attorney and you are mentally incapacitated, there’s very little court supervision of the agent – you are essentially giving an individual the authority to act as if he or she were you.
You also need to be careful about specifying which powers are outlined in the Durable Power of Attorney form. This could include making of gifts, access to safe-deposit boxes, access to bank accounts, ability to sign tax returns on your behalf and much more.
There are many more benefits to selecting a Durable Power of Attorney, it is highly recommended that you think it through carefully and hire an attorney to help you develop the documents.
Whether you are considering a General Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney or Advance Directive, it’s best to consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer who can help you develop the document that best suits your situation and addresses your question. He or she can also point out any flaws or concerns that your drafted documents may have.