If you become interested in planning for your future and start to probe into the field of elder law you will invariably come across some terminology that may be unfamiliar. Because of this we devote some space every now and then to providing explanations in an effort to help you build your elder law vocabulary. With this in mind we would like to provide a general explanation of what durable powers of attorney are and how they are used in an elder law context.
Most people are aware that standard powers of attorney are documents that are executed to empower an individual of your choosing with the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. The need to appoint potential decision-makers comes into play when you are engaged in incapacity planning. A significant percentage of senior citizens do indeed become unable to make sound medical and financial decisions at some point in time, so it is good to be proactive and select representatives in advance.
However, standard powers of attorney do not remain in effect upon the incapacitation of the grantor. Of course it makes no sense at all if the power of attorney expires at the very time you need it. Therefore, elder law attorneys utilize instruments called durable powers of attorney, which do remain in effect after the grantor becomes incapacitated.
Should you become incapacitated at some point in time there will be different types of decisions that must be made. Some of them are financial in nature, and some of them involve health care choices.
You may do some soul-searching and recognize that the person you would like to see handling your financial decisions is not the same person you would like to see making medical decisions on your behalf. As a response, you could execute two different durable powers of attorney: one for health care decisions, and one for financial decision-making. You then simply name a different attorney-in-fact on each of the documents.
If you’re interested in learning more about durable powers of attorney and incapacity planning, take a moment to get in touch with an experienced elder law attorney to arrange for a consultation.