A durable power of attorney (DPOA) gives authority for a designated person of your choice, your attorney in fact, to act on your behalf in financial matters. It differs from a basic power of attorney because it contains special language which makes the powers granted under it ‘survive’ the incapacity of the principal, which is you. Although the powers may be exercised throughout the incapacity of the principal they cease to exist at the principal’s death.
The DPOA can be written so that the granted powers are specifically limited or extremely broad. A DPOA becomes effective immediately upon signing it. Because of this, it is a very powerful document that should only be signed if absolute trust exists between you and your attorney in fact. You will want to discuss this with the individual you choose so that it is understood that it is your wish that he or she exercise the powers granted therein only upon your incapacity. You may choose whomever you prefer to act as your attorney in fact, although it is common for couples to choose their spouse to serve in this capacity. One power you may want to consider granting to your attorney in fact is the ability to gift on your behalf in case you need to structure your assets so that you may qualify for Medicaid. As with your health care surrogate, it is recommended that you also designate an alternate to serve in this position in the event your initial designee is unable to serve.
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