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Estate Planning Newsletter

Durable Powers of Attorney

If you become incapacitated, who is supposed to make decisions for you about the management of your property or your health care? A durable power of attorney allows someone you designate to act on your behalf. It is usually included as part of an estate plan.

A durable power of attorney is different from a non-durable power of attorney because it remains in effect even when you are incapacitated.

You are the “principal” when you create the durable power of attorney, and the “attorney-in-fact” is the person you appoint. Your attorney-in-fact may have the power to carry out all the same activities as you. An attorney-in-fact may be anyone close to you, such as a spouse, relative or close friend. In other words, an attorney-in-fact does not have to be an attorney.

Property Management

The attorney-in-fact designated for managing your property should adhere to your own standards of care. Also, this attorney-in-fact should:

  • Avoid conflicts of interest
  • Follow your directions
  • Keep regular contact with you
  • Maintain records of all transactions
Health Care

Your attorney-in-fact for health care has the duty to make health care decisions for you. Some states have simplified this process. For example, California has a Health Care Decisions Law that makes it easier to name someone to act on your behalf for medical treatment decisions.

More Than One Permitted

You may assign more than one power of attorney to carry out your property management or health care wishes. Usually, if there are 2 or more attorneys-in-fact, they must agree on what actions to take on your behalf.

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