Powers of Attorney – Living Wills
A Power of Attorney (PoA) gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf. There are several types of Powers of Attorney documents and our firm is here to ensure you choose the proper one for you and your needs.
A Durable Power of Attorney (DPoA) is the broadest of these documents and is the equivalent of writing a blank check. The person appointed as your agent must be a person in whom you have full trust and confidence. The DPoA gives another adult the legal right to act on your behalf. A common reason for a DPoA is in the case of an elderly parent. Estate planning and end of life decisions are much easier on a family when there is a trusted agent in place to act on behalf of the aging parent should they suffer a prolonged illness that prevents them from taking care of their affairs. A DPoA gives the adult child the ability to make the best choices for their aging parent. Some decisions that a DPoA gives a trusted agent are:
✓ Paying expenses and bills
✓ Depositing or withdrawing money from bank accounts
✓ Selling of property
✓ Filing of taxes
✓ Operation of a family business
✓ Entering contracts
This document is cost effective and time efficient in comparison to the alternative, a conservatorship. To enact conservatorship over someone, you must go through a court proceeding and provide proof the person needs and conservator and that you are the best person to serve in the role. It is important to complete DPoAs with aging parents while they still retain all their mental faculty and can understand what they are doing and why. If your parent is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease and cannot understand what they are signing, a Durable Power of Attorney is no longer an available tool to care for your aging parent to help with their affairs.
A Medical Power of Attorney (MPoA) grants medical decisions to a trusted agent. This document allows you to appoint a person that is emotionally stable to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so, which may include decisions like what treatment you should receive or if additional surgery is needed while incapacitated. A Medical Power of Attorney is not a Living Will.
A Living Will is a directive of your wishes should something unexpected happen and you not be able to make medical decisions for yourself (wanting a feeding tube versus not wanting one). A Medical Power of Attorney does not represent your personal choices in these matters as it is designating another person to make those decisions. It is always best to execute a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will at the same time.
Limited Power of Attorneys (LPoA) are used to give someone temporary authority over a specific action or time period. If you were traveling abroad in a remote area for months at a time, you might consider granting a trusted agent with a Limited Power of Attorney to pay your taxes and bills or have maintenance done to your home. This LPoA would cease once you returned from your travels or upon a specific date.
Any Power of Attorney ceases to be valid upon the person’s death to which it applies and estate planning documents such as Last Wills and Testaments and Testamentary Trusts will take effect.
It is important that your loved ones know your wishes, just as you should know of theirs, if you or they cannot reasonably make decisions regarding healthcare, finances, and even daily responsibilities. Powers of Attorney and Living Wills provide dignity and certainty in a difficult time. If we can help you through the process, please call us at (615) 444-3995. Our team of attorneys has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for over 20 years and we can help you make this process as easy and stress free as possible.