To some people, estate planning just means creating a last will. To many others, the process involves multiple steps, including setting up a living will. Your living will is a collection of documents you make now that will protect you in the event of some kind of catastrophe in the future.
Whether you are left in a coma after a car crash or suffer an embolism that leaves you unable to communicate, having a living will is one of the most important forms of protection during medical emergencies.
A power of attorney document can be a key component of a living will. People can make one power of attorney document that empowers someone to handle financial matters and medical decisions. They might make several documents for separate situations or needs. Others will invest in a durable power of attorney. What makes a durable power of attorney different from a standard one?
A standard power of attorney loses its authority in certain circumstances
A power of attorney doesn’t grant indefinite authority to someone else over your financial, business or medical affairs. The document you create might put specific limitations on how long it will last. Even if it doesn’t, your power of attorney documents lose their authority when you regain your health or if you die.
Additionally, standard power of attorney documents no longer hold legal power if the courts determine that someone no longer has testamentary capacity. If a medical condition will indefinitely affect your ability to act on your own behalf in legal matters, that usually means that the courts no longer uphold agreements that you enter in such a condition. A power of attorney also loses its authority.
A durable power of attorney is a crucial safeguard because it remains in effect even if someone experiences permanent incapacitation.
How a durable power of attorney protect you
If you went through all the effort of creating an extensive estate plan and living will, you want your family members and those that you trust to follow through on your wishes. When a power of attorney loses its authority, it can leave the people you love in a difficult situation and even harm your estate by endangering your assets or any business that you operate.
A durable power of attorney protects your property. It also protects you by giving you a chance now to pick someone that you implicitly trust to handle your affairs if you need that kind of support in the future. Otherwise, anyone from your family or even a professional that you don’t have a current relationship with could try to seek a guardianship over you.
Creating a durable power of attorney will give you peace of mind now and protection in case the unthinkable happens.