Granting Power of Attorney to a Trusted Individual
A Power of Attorney grants a designated person the authority to act on your behalf for all legal or financial matters. This is a very powerful right that you as Principal are granting to the attorney-in-fact or the person who you command to take over once you cannot run the show.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney for Property?
The power is durable in that it will be in effect even if and when you are deemed to lack “capacity.” Most powers of attorney ends with the loss of capacity but not when it is of the durable kind. In fact, the power ceases only upon the passing of the principal or else revoked by the principal while he/she has capacity. In theory, the person holding such power (a.k.a. the attorney-in-fact) will step into your shoes and carry out your wishes the way you would have intended it surrounding your assets (that are outside the trust) were you yourself capable of doing such. This power is in regard to your financial assets and estate and is limited to the management of accounts, real estate and other personal property not already in trust as well as assets that intentionally will remain linked to the person as an individual and not the trust (e.g. retirement plans).
Advance Health Care Directive for Future Medical Decisions
We feel that the Advance Health Care Directive is the most important document in a thorough estate planning package. There is often too much focus on the financial aspect of Estate Planning and not enough decisions about health care in the event of unforeseen medical emergencies. The Advance Health Care Directive basically instructs your designated person(s) what decisions you would like to have carried out in the event you cannot make that decision or voice it on your own behalf. Like the Durable Power of Attorney for property/asset management, it again has your trusted individual that you hand-selected (often called the “Agent”), step into your role, and tell the physician your health care wishes. If you know anything about our privacy laws as a result of HIPAA, you are aware of how tough it is to release medical information and the medical charts/files to anyone other than the patient. This Directive basically provides the Agent you have picked with a legal method to cut through much of the “red tape”. It is important to bear in mind that this only deals with health care decisions.