What is a power of attorney, and when would you use one?

On Behalf of | May 18, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Until life forces an issue, sometimes planning for unforeseen events is not really on your mind. But waiting until you actually require a durable power of attorney may mean not having it at a crucial moment. This could disrupt your assets; for example, you may lose your home because the mortgage goes unpaid. 

Creating a durable power of attorney gives the person you designate — the agent — authority to make decisions and take action on your behalf in the manner and time you specify. For example, you may authorize the agent to manage any assets you wish, including your business, but you may stipulate that this only becomes effective if something incapacitates you. 

Losing physical or mental capacity 

Physical incapacity, such as during a long hospitalization for surgery, injury or coma, may be a more obvious reason you could need an agent to manage your assets. Mental incapacity is an equally important reason, though. Examples include Alzheimer’s disease or a severe head injury that causes temporary or permanent cognitive challenges. 

Serving time in military deployment, jail or prison 

Perhaps you are still mentally fit to handle your own affairs, but you are not able to for other reasons. Any circumstance in which you do not have access to phones, devices and the internet to make transactions on your own behalf may be a good time to have an agent who can step in for you. 

Vacationing in hard-to-reach ways 

While you are taking time off to decompress from your busy life, you hope your business and other assets will remain normal in your absence. That said, a power of attorney may be worth considering if you are heading overseas, planning to unplug from the digital world for a couple of weeks or otherwise may be hard to bring back or reach if issues surface. 

Assigning your own power of attorney before the need arises may avert having a judge-appointed agent. However, the person you choose will have extraordinary responsibility, so do not pick lightly. 


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