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Durable Powers of Attorney: Who Makes Your Decisions If You Can’t Make Them Yourself

Niel Nielsen

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One of the most important goals in estate planning is to make sure that you designate someone to take charge of your property and health care in the event of a disability.

Durable Powers of Attorney are simple and inexpensive legal documents that authorize a person, known as your agent, to manage your financial or health decisions for you if you become incapacitated.  The Power of Attorney should name a primary agent and at least one alternate agent to serve if your primary agent is not available.

The authority given to your agent may be limited to very specific actions, but is normally very broad, allowing your agent to do most things for you that you could do for yourself if you were not incapacitated.  In the financial area this would include:  paying bills, handling accounts, managing investments, dealing with insurance, paying taxes, and collecting retirement benefits.  In the area of health, this would include:  gaining access to your medical records, communicating directly with health care providers, making choices about who provides your care, and telling doctors which treatments to give and which to withhold.

If you do not have Durable Powers of Attorney in place, or if your existing documents need to be reviewed or revised, don’t procrastinate.  Set a time to meet with your advisors to take a serious look at your plan.

By: Niel Nielsen

 


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