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Issues to address when adding powers of attorney to estate plans

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Estate Planning |

People choose to add powers of attorney for their estate plans for many different reasons. Some people worry about protecting their resources or taking pressure off their family members. Others are anxious about the potential consequences of having a specific medical condition.

Regardless of why someone wants to add powers of attorney to an estate plan, they typically need to do so very carefully to ensure they address all of the most pressing issues related to these documents. What concerns do principals drafting powers of attorney frequently need to address in their documents?

Selecting the right agent

Choosing an agent or attorney-in-fact is perhaps the most important issue when putting together powers of attorney. The goal is to select someone who is dependable and responsible as well as readily available should someone require support due to an unforeseen emergency. Some people go so far as to name more than one person so that they have a backup in case their main candidate isn’t available.

Limiting the authority granted

Many people decide to draft two separate powers of attorney so that there are two different agents handling matters if an emergency arises. People may name one person in their medical power of attorney and another person to handle financial matters.

There are additional ways for someone to limit the authority granted by powers of attorney. For example, some principals require that their incapacitation last a certain amount of time before their powers of attorney take effect. Others only grant the authority to make specific medical decisions or handle particular financial issues.

Ensuring long-term support

The creation of durable powers of attorney is crucial for the protection of many people, especially those who worry about incapacitation later in life. Durable powers of attorney do not lose their authority if the courts declare someone incompetent or permanently incapacitated. It is often important to think about the possibility of long-term medical vulnerability, potentially related to advanced age or conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, to effectively protect against those challenges.

Individuals who discuss their current concerns and expectations for the future with an experienced legal team can better address the issues that matter to them in their estate planning documents. Taking the time to customize paperwork is typically a better option than rushing through the planning process and using boilerplate documents, given all that is at stake.