What is the Function and Importance of a Durable Power of Attorney in Estate Planning?

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person to appoint someone else to make financial decisions, healthcare decisions, or both on their behalf in the event that they become incapacitated. Unlike a regular power of attorney, which expires upon the principal’s incapacity, a durable power of attorney actually “springs” into effect when the principal becomes incapacitated and only if the principal becomes incapacitated.

One of the main benefits of appointing a durable power of attorney in estate planning is that it allows a person to pre-plan for a potential incapacity. By designating someone to act on their behalf in advance, they can ensure that their wishes will be respected and that their financial and healthcare affairs will be managed in accordance with their desires. Additionally, appointing a durable power of attorney can help avoid the need for a court-appointed guardian or conservator, which can be costly, time-consuming, and—more importantly—result in decisions being made that are not aligned with what the principal would have wanted.

Another benefit is that the principal can take the opportunity to meet with the designated agent and discuss decision-making guidelines and even answer any questions the designated agent may have. Further, in appointing a durable power of attorney rather than relying on a static document to provide decision-making guidance, the agent has the flexibility to consider the circumstances and anything that has changed since the designation and determine what’s in the principal’s best interests accordingly.

When choosing a person to serve as agent for a durable power of attorney, evaluate many characteristics such as trustworthiness, empathy, administrative skills, intellectual capacity, accessibility, diplomatic skills, and an overall willingness to take on the responsibilities. By choosing someone who possesses these qualities, you can be confident that your affairs will be managed according to your wishes if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.

Planning for your own incapacity is a sobering pursuit. But taking control of the unknown and planning for the potential can also bring you valuable peace of mind.

Work with an Experienced Florida Estate Planning Attorney
If you’d like to include a durable power of attorney in your estate plan, we’re here to help. Call our office at 561-395-6800 or fill out our contact form to schedule a meeting and we will be in touch to get that scheduled.