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Establishing a durable financial power of attorney

At some point, most of us will need someone to look after our finances, whether due to some serious life event like long-term illness or incapacitation, or merely old age. While this is a practical concern for nearly everyone sooner or later, many people resist making this transition, often out of a desire to maintain independence.

Fortunately, it is possible to assign these responsibilities as you wish, without giving away all of your legal authority at once. A durable financial power of attorney allows you to grant another person specific authority to act on your behalf in financial matters. If you have concerns about giving too much authority to a single person, you may assign only some of your legal authority to an appointee.

Even if you are young and in good health, it is always wise to grant someone you trust your financial power of attorney, because the unthinkable can happen to any of us at any time. Don't delay protecting yourself and your rights with a strong legal plan for the future.

Potential conflicts with medical care

When a person grants someone else financial power of attorney, the grantee becomes the grantor's financial agent, able to approve or deny a range of financial decisions. One of the most common situations involving financial agents is when a person has a medical emergency, in which case the victim's financial agent steps in and keeps their bills paid and may approve or deny certain medical expenses.

This may grow complicated if one person acts as the victim's financial agent while another person acts as their medical agent, approving or denying certain kinds of medical care. If the medical agent and the financial agent disagree about the medical care that the victim should receive, the financial agent may ultimately hold the power to approve or deny the care by approving or denying payment for it.

Should the power be durable?

In some cases, a financial power of attorney is not made durable, but only temporary. If you grant someone power of attorney but do not make it durable, then if you have an emergency and recover from it, you regain your own financial agency. Since it is not durable, you must grant it again in order for the same agent or a different one to care for your financial affairs if you need them again in the future. If you want ongoing protection, strongly consider using a durable financial power of attorney, rather than a limited power.

Protecting your future requires careful planning and decisive action. Make sure to protect yourself and your rights with a clear plan that keeps your priorities secure.

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