Power of attorney documents help round out your estate plan. They ensure that you have protection if you experience a serious medical event or get into a car crash by giving someone else the legal right to act in your stead.
You might have multiple different power of attorney forms that protect you in different situations or that authorize people for different forms of legal authority. Financial and medical power of attorneys are among the most popular. You can give people the power to pay your bills or make decisions about your medical care.
One form of power of attorney that people sometimes overlook is the durable power of attorney. Especially for those who have a history of longevity or cognitive decline in their family, a durable power of attorney can be a powerful estate planning tool.
Most power of attorney documents lose their authority with cognitive decline
If your health or mental state reaches a point where the courts would no longer allow you to make your own legal decisions, standard power of attorney documents will no longer help you or the people providing your care.
Once you lack testamentary capacity, only a durable power of attorney will remain in effect. A durable power of attorney persists even if you reach a point where you are no longer capable of entering into legal agreements or making decisions on your own behalf.
A durable power of attorney ensures you have a say even when you can’t speak for yourself
Creating a durable power of attorney now will ensure that you are the one with ultimate control over the decisions made about your finances and medical care if you experience cognitive decline or become permanently incapacitated later in life.
Otherwise, the people you name in your standard power of attorney documents might wind up replaced by a court-appointed guardian. While these risks may be minor, their impact if they should occur are massive for both you and the people you love.
Planning for every eventuality can make a comprehensive estate plan a more powerful protection tool than a generic last will that doesn’t address issues like incapacitation as you age.