Durable Powers Of Attorney: The Hows & Whys

When you combine two very poignant statistics that are relevant to anyone planning for their twilight years a clear picture emerges. Firstly, people are living longer than they ever have before, and the numbers of the oldest old (people 85 years of age and older) are expanding very rapidly. And secondly, once you reach the age of 85, the odds become about 50-50 that you will be suffering from dementia. Though the degree of severity will determine exactly how limited your capabilities may be should dementia strike, it is very likely that you are not going to be able to make all of your personal, financial, and medical decisions for yourself.

If you were to become legally incapacitated due to dementia without making any advance preparations, a guardian could be appointed by the court and you could subsequently become a ward of the state. This is not a very pleasant proposition for most people, and the way to prevent it is to execute durable powers of attorney.

As most people know, a power of attorney is used to empower someone to act in your behalf legally. But a typical general power of attorney is no longer valid if the principal becomes incapacitated. The durable power of attorney does remain in effect after the incapacitation of the principal and this is why it is commonly used in estate planning. You can execute a financial power of attorney and empower someone of your choosing to handle your financial affairs, and a power of attorney for health care to make medical decisions in your behalf.

It is very possible that you will be able to make your own decisions with full clarity right up until you take your final breath. But it is comforting to move forward with the knowledge that you have empowered people that you know and trust to make decisions in your behalf should incapacity befall you at some point in time.

About Ronald Morton

Ronald Morton is a Certified Elder Law Attorney practicing in the areas of wills, trusts, estate planning, probate and estate administration, asset protection planning, Medicaid planning, and Veterans benefits law throughout Mississippi.

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