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How Creating a Durable Power Attorney Can Be More Important Than a Will

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While many people realize that it’s a good idea to make final preparations for their estate upon death, unfortunately, many of those same people don’t realize there are plenty of preparations that need to be made to help with their care in the event they become unable to care for themselves. Estate planning attorneys don’t just deal with dispersing a person’s assets after they die, they also handle elder care law, including the creation of documents such as Powers of Attorney that will protect you in the event you become incapacitated or disabled.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A Durable Power of Attorney or DPOA is a document that grants one or more people the legal power to perform on behalf of the elder person for certain acts and functions outlined in the document. The powers granted can include things such as real estate, banking and financial transactions, government benefits, estate trust and beneficiary transactions, and personal and family maintenance. Because these duties carry a significant amount of responsibility and can involve extensive time and work, the person chosen to carry out the duties should be carefully considered.

A DPOA is often considered more important than even a will because it can play a role in the care that a person receives at the end of their life. Without a DPOA, no one can step in and take care of your affairs if you become disabled or incapacitated without an order from the Court.

Why Use an Attorney when I Can Just Fill Out an Online Form?

Of course, there are do-it-yourself forms available online to create a DPOA, but having an estate planning attorney guide you in the creation of the document can be very beneficial. There are many issues to consider when creating a DPOA, and one size doesn’t usually fit all in this case.

Things to Consider when Planning Your Durable Power of Attorney:

  • Agent’s Powers – The DPOA determines the powers that are given to the agent you choose to represent you. You will decide whether they can sell your property, manage a business if you own one, pay your bills, invest your money, borrow money on your behalf, consent to medical treatment, and designate beneficiaries to your insurance policies, just to name a few. The wording in a Power of Attorney can be significant so it’s best to consult with an attorney who knows the laws of your state.
  • Joint Agents – It is entirely possible to name more than one person as your agent, but that can lead to a lot of confusion. An attorney can help you be clear which person oversees what duties if you choose more than one agent. An attorney will also help you clarify whether the agents must act together or if they can act individually.
  • When the DPOA Takes Effect – It is important for an attorney to help you determine when you want your document to take effect. In Florida, DPOAs take effect immediately upon signing.
  • Accepting a Durable Power of Attorney – Even if you happened to do everything right when using an online form, some institutions, especially banks, are reluctant to accept a DPOA. They are afraid the documents aren’t valid, could pose a fraud issue, and may result in a lawsuit. Having an attorney help you create the documents can create validity that an online source couldn’t offer.

Contact an Attorney for Help

The primary focus of an attorney who specializes in elder care is to help a family implement safeguards for quality of life as their loved one grows older. Each state includes specific laws regarding elder care and the complexities of the law can make it hard for an individual to determine their needs. That’s why contacting an attorney can make all the difference. David Toback has over 20 years of experience in estate planning and elder care in Florida and can help you be sure your final wishes are handled just the way you would want them to be.

Resource:

pbs.org/wgbh/caringforyourparents/handbook/legalissues/importantlegal.html

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