Most people know that a durable power of attorney will protect them from a costly guardianship in the event they become incapacitated. However, not just any document claiming to be a power of attorney will work. A power of attorney may be general or specific, durable or non-durable and cover financial and/or healthcare decisions. Failure to have the correct power of attorney can have devastating consequences.
We were contacted recently by an individual whose mother was incapacitated and living in a nursing home. The mother had previously signed a power of attorney which the children thought was adequate to provide them with authority to make decisions on behalf of their mother. Unfortunately, the power of attorney had two major flaws. First and foremost, it was not a durable power of attorney. Second, the power of attorney did not authorize the children to make healthcare decisions.
Unless your power of attorney specifically states that it is durable, it will no longer be valid when you become incapacitated. Sadly, your family will lose the power to make decisions on your behalf at the time when it is needed the most. Likewise, your power of attorney must specifically state the type of decisions you are entrusting to others on your behalf. A power of attorney granting the power to make financial decisions does not apply to healthcare decisions. Therefore, it is crucial that your power of attorney specifically list the type of decisions needed for your situation.
Parman & Easterday
If you are unsure if your durable power of attorney will protect you when the time comes, please contact our office for a consultation.