Is your Power of Attorney durable and does it give your agent the power they need?

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Hi, I’m Kim Rainen, an estate planning attorney in Andover, Massachusetts. Today, I wanted to share with you some information about durable powers of attorney, what they are, how they work, and why they’re so important. Most people assume that their spouse or their children will be able to step in and take care of business for them if they’re not able to anymore. But that’s just not true. A durable power of attorney is a powerful legal document that appoints someone else to manage these things. The durable power of attorney gives the authority to the person you’ve chosen to take care of things like managing your bank accounts, paying your bills, contacting your insurance. Among other things, this important piece of paper is the only way that they can step in and take care of all of this. By putting up durable power of attorney in place, you get to decide who’s going to manage these things for you, not the court. This is important because you get to choose someone you trust to manage your affairs. This also avoids probate and family court. If something comes up and you’re not able to manage your finances, for yourself, your family has to go before a judge and ask for that authority. This process is expensive. It’s really, really stressful. And it creates delay and uncertainty that puts your family in a really hard spot. By having a durable power of attorney in place, you’ll avoid this for them. Another key component of the durable power of attorney is the fact that it’s durable. This is going to sound counterintuitive, but without a provision stating that your power of attorney is durable. The authority that you’ve given in the document ceases or stops when you’re incapacitated, which is exactly when you need it. Lastly, your agent or your attorney in fact, under your document has a fiduciary duty, meaning that they’re obligated to manage things in your best interest, so you’re protected. If they miss manage things, there are legal consequences for that. One more thing. You want to make sure that your durable power of attorney includes all the authority that your agent might need. If there’s something left out of your durable power of attorney, your agent might need court authority in order to conduct business for you. And we definitely don’t want that. Last you want to make sure that your durable power of attorney is properly executed. In Massachusetts. This means signing before a notary public. If you want to ensure that your family has the ability to take care of business for you, or that you have the ability to take care of business for a loved one. Make sure you have a durable power of attorney in place. It might save you or your family, a whole lot of headache, and probate court intervention in the future. If you want to talk about getting a durable power of attorney put in place in Massachusetts, give us a call.