Durable Powers of Attorney

An estate plan should contain powers of attorney that enable designated persons to act as your agents in the event you become incapacitated. There are two commonly used agencies, one financial, Durable Power for Financial Management, and the other for making health care decisions, Advanced Health Care Directives. Typically these powers of attorney spring into effect when one or more predetermined evaluators, such as a primary care physician, certifies that the individual is incapacitated.

Acting under the authority of a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management, your agent is granted broad powers to act on your behalf. He or she can collect your wages, deposit your checks, and pay your bills. If the incapacity lasts a significant period they can make decisions to sell or borrow against assets. The Advanced Health Care Directive permits your agent to make medical decisions about your choices of treatment and care providers.

Your designee is often your spouse or significant other, your children, other relatives, or friends. For unmarried couples, Durable Powers are essential as they create power to make decisions that would otherwise not be recognized. Durable Powers of Attorney terminate upon recovery from the incapacity or upon death.