Durable Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a grant of authority from one person (the Principal) to another (the Agent). It can be for a specific purpose, such as closing a real estate transaction, or a more general purpose, such as managing financial affairs or making health care decisions. Unless the power is specifically denominated as “durable,” the power will terminate upon the mental incapacity or death of the Principal.
In Life and Estate Planning two kinds of Durable Powers of Attorney are typically drafted for clients:
The first is a General Durable Power of Attorney, in which the Principal names one or two Agents, who, in succession, are authorized to manage the Principal’s personal financial business. In some Life and Estate Plans this is a crucial piece, as it is the only document governing periods of incapacity. In other Plans it serves as back-up protection and works in conjunction with a Revocable Trust created by the client.
The second is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Advanced Directive. This two-part document preserves the Principal’s voice regarding healthcare decisions. The Principal nominates one or two Agents to make healthcare decisions on the Principal’s behalf during any mental incapacity and outlines treatment options they do not want at the end of life or when their quality of life has degraded to such a significant degree that they would not purposely choose to treat a condition that might lead to their death. This document allows the Principal to retain control over their care and can serve to assist their agent in making decisions that are consistent with the Principal’s wishes.