Incapacity and Powers of Attorney

Power of Attorney designations are tools for appointing authority to another person for a specific purpose.  The weakness of these documents is that the designation expires when the Principal (person granting the authority) loses their mental capacity, unless the document is specifically designated as a DURABLE POWER.  These Durable Powers of Attorney can be for health care purposes or for general fiduciary powers.

A Durable Power for Health Care is often referred to as a Living Will.  A Living Will designates an Agent to act on your behalf regarding health care decisions.  If you are incapacitated on a temporary or a permanent basis your Agent can work with your physicians to manage your care, obtain information from your insurance provider, and otherwise be your voice.

The Advanced Directive is a component of the Living Will that pertains only to end-of-life care.  While each state has specific language governing the use of the Advanced Directive, generally it is your opportunity to advise your Agent and your physicians about procedures you do or do not want to receive if their use will only serve to prolong the dying process and will not reasonably improve your chances for recovery.

A General Durable Power of Attorney grants authority to an Agent to manage your financial life on your behalf during any period of incapacity, whether temporary or permanent.

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