What is a durable power of attorney?

Recently in this blog, we discussed appointing a guardianship or conservatorship over a loved one who is mentally or physically compromised. These legal procedures are often decided by the court after the person’s incapacitation. There is also a way that you can voluntarily appoint another person to handle your affairs if you are concerned about becoming unable to make your own decisions in the future. This is known as appointing a power of attorney, and is an option that is often taken by elderly people in Detroit and elsewhere.

How does a power of attorney differ over the court appointing a guardianship or conservatorship? With a power of attorney, you decide the terms of the legal document in advance of becoming incapacitated. According to AgingCare, you would appoint an adult child or another trusted loved one to serve as your agent. You would give this person permission to make financial and/or healthcare decisions on your behalf, after you are no longer able.

One advantage of a durable power of attorney is that you can be as specific as you wish in the contract, much the same as you might when planning a trust. You can include certain instructions for your agent, such as the type of medical care you wish to receive and your end-of-life wishes. You might also direct your agent on how to spend your finances or give him or her complete control over making financial decisions on your behalf. Because a durable power of attorney involves a great deal of responsibility, you must plan it out while you are of sound mind. You have the option to change or revoke the agreement as long as you are able to make your own decisions. Once you are incapacitated, the power of attorney remains in effect until your death.

A durable power of attorney may give your loved ones peace of mind if you become unable to make your own legal and medical decisions. This can allow them to ensure you are comfortable and receive important healthcare benefits. Since planning a durable power of attorney is a complex legal procedure, the information in this post is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer.