Am I Really “Old Enough” to Have a Durable Power of Attorney?

We increasingly find, and our clients tell us, that individuals postpone their estate planning because they do not consider themselves “old enough” to begin the process. In fact, estate planning attorneys can assist anyone over the age of eighteen. Starting to think about your estate planning needs early can help you prepare for any unexpected circumstances that may arise.

In our practice, our goal is to help you understand all of the estate planning options that are available to you, so you can find the plan that fits your individual planning needs. A durable power of attorney is one such option that may be of benefit to you and your loved ones.

We want to share with you some common questions about the durable power of attorney that we receive from clients to educate you on this specific type of estate plan.

1. What is a power of attorney and should it be “durable”?

A power of attorney is a legally-binding document that allows you, as the creator, to appoint a close friend, family member, or trusted advisor as your agent. That responsibility provides your agent the authority to make decisions on your behalf, including helping you secure long-term care, accessing all of your accounts, and even creating an emergency estate plan for you. “Durable” means that your detailed provisions in the document stay in effect if you become incompetent or otherwise incapacitated.

2. Who should I choose as my agent?

This is perhaps one of the most important questions we receive from our clients. It is crucial to designate someone you trust implicitly as your agent, as that person will be responsible for making very important decisions for you. You do, however, retain the authority to decide when your agent takes control of your affairs and begins making decisions on your behalf. Keep in mind, if you do not appoint someone as your agent in your durable power of attorney document, later on your family may have to seek judicial authority over you in a crisis.

3. Can I set up a durable power of attorney without the assistance of an estate planning attorney?

Although it is possible, this document is simply too important to set up without the guidance of an estate planning attorney. He or she will be able to support you through the process, answer any and all questions you may have, and can ensure your durable power of attorney documents are executed in accordance with state law. Without the assistance of an estate planning attorney, you may leave certain decisions or responsibilities unassigned. If this happens, your loved ones may opt to receive court-approved guardianship of you. This can result in a court designating a person or entity to handle all of your affairs. Discussing your needs with an estate planning attorney can help avoid this unnecessary process.

Do you have additional questions not covered here? Do not hesitate to contact our firm and set up a meeting. We are the estate planning attorneys here to help you.

Category: News & Blog · Tags:

Leave A Comment