Power of Attorney and Advanced Health Care Directives

What is a Power of Attorney?

Power of attorney, estate planning

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the power to act in your place.  You name someone (known as an agent or attorney-in-fact) who will step into your place to make legal decisions for you.  You can empower your agent to do things such as sign checks and tax returns, enter into contracts, buy or sell real estate, access your financial accounts, or anything else that you can  personally do.

This power can be as broad or as narrow as you wish and the agent is wholly confined by that scope.  This power ends when its purpose is fulfilled or at your incapacity or death.

How is a "Durable" Power of Attorney Different from a Regular Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney is almost identical to a regular power of attorney.  However, unlike a regular power of attorney, a durable power of attorney does not end with your incapacitation.  If you should become incapacitated, your agent has the ability to maintain your financial affairs without the court having to get involved. 

What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An advanced heath care directive is your chance to let your physician, family and friends know your health care preferences.  This could include describing what special treatment you do or do not want, what surgical procedures, what tests, or what organs donated.  This directive gives you the ability to ensure you get the quality of life you want.  

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Power of attorney, estate planning
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