DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A well-drafted Durable Power of Attorney will:
Information & Benefits:
A Power of Attorney is an instrument that authorizes someone to act on behalf of the person granting the power. When you create and sign a power of attorney, you give another person legal authority to act on your behalf. This person is called your "attorney-in-fact" or, sometimes, your "agent."
A "durable" power of attorney stays valid even if you become unable to handle your own affairs (incapacitated). If you don't specify that you want your power of attorney to be durable, it will automatically end if you later become incapacitated.
Be careful! You may be required to sign it in front of a notary public. In some states, witnesses must watch you sign the document. If your attorney-in-fact will have authority to deal with your real estate, you may also need to put a copy on file at the local public records office. Therefore, in order to avoid wasted time and energy, an attorney should be consulted. No matter your particular jurisdiction, the attorney-in-fact must act in your best interests, keep accurate records, keep your property separate from his or hers and avoid conflicts of interest.
You can give your attorney-in-fact as much or as little power as you wish.
--use your assets to pay your everyday expenses and those of your family
--buy, sell, maintain, pay taxes on and mortgage real estate and other property
--collect benefits from Social Security, Medicare or other government programs or civil or military service
--invest your money in stocks, bonds and mutual funds
--handle transactions with banks and other financial institutions
--buy and sell insurance policies and annuities for you
--file and pay your taxes
--operate your small business
--claim property you inherit or are otherwise entitled to
--hire someone to represent you in court, and
--manage your retirement accounts.
Lets you choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Remember, if the power is not specifically granted in the power of attorney, your agent may not be able to act on your behalf. In addition to a durable power of attorney for healthcare, you will want to prepare a "living will" (also called a Healthcare Directive or Directive to Physicians), which will let your doctors know what your preferences are regarding certain kinds of medical treatment and life-sustaining procedures if you are otherwise unable to communicate your wishes.
While you are mentally capable, you may revoke a power of attorney at any time for any reason. To revoke a power of attorney, you should notify the person you have named to act as your agent. For your protection, it is best to do this in writing. You also should destroy all copies of the power of attorney and notify in writing any third parties with whom this person might have done business. Where substantial assets are at stake, you may also want to file a document called a "Revocation of Power of Attorney" in the public records where you live or own real state, and maybe even in the local newspapers if business interests are at stake.
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