A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document in which you give someone the power to act in your place if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. This person is legally allowed to handle important matters (e.g., managing your investments, paying your bills, directing your medical care) for you when you can’t do so yourself. To cover all of your important issues, you’ll need to create a POA for health care issues and another one for your finances.
What is a Durable Medical Power of Attorney (DPOA)?
Sometimes called a Health Care Surrogate, this is a healthcare document that states your wishes for when you’re too sick or injured to state them yourself. It begins by naming a trusted person who’s responsible for this task (a.k.a., agent, attorney-in-fact, health care proxy, healthcare surrogate). They’re legally bound to work with your healthcare providers to ensure that you get the medical attention you’ve stated in your power of attorney document or within a healthcare declaration (a.k.a., living will). Many states combine both of these documents into a single copy now. This is referred to as an “advance health care directive” or “advance directive” for short.
What is a Durable Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA)?
When you prepare an FPOA, you’re giving someone the authority to handle financial transactions (e.g., depositing your Social Security checks, closing a real estate deal, sorting through your mail, watching over your retirement accounts and investments, filing your tax returns) on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Once you have one of these documents in place, you’ll have a trusted person (a.k.a., agent, attorney-in-fact) who can handle these things for you. They don’t have to be an attorney or a financial expert. They need to be someone whom you completely trust. If necessary, they can use your assets to pay for any professional help they may need.
Why Do You Need Both of These Documents?
You may wonder why you can’t cover both your healthcare and financial matters in a single document. While technically you can, it isn’t a good idea to do so because it complicates things. For instance, you may include a lot of personal details and feelings in your healthcare documents that you wouldn’t include in your financial documents. Additionally, your healthcare providers don’t need to know the details of your finances. So, while you’ll want to create separate documents, you should name the same person to oversee them both. If this isn’t possible, you need to at least name people who can work well together.
How do You Create DPOA or an FPOA?
While you can easily create a power of attorney document for both your healthcare and financial needs on your own, you’ll eventually need some help from an attorney, so why not hire them to take care of everything for you? This will ensure that the document is personalized instead of just a fill-in-the-blank form. It’s also highly recommended if you have a more complicated situation.
As you create these documents, you’ll need to name an agent to oversee them. Once you’ve chosen this person, make sure that you talk to them about any concerns they may have.
Who can Help with Preparing Your Documents?
It only takes a small effort to prepare these documents. Doing so is well worth it because if something happens to you without a power of attorney in place, your loved ones will have to attend probate court. So, once you’ve finished creating your documents, you’ll need to sign and finalize them according to your state’s laws. If you’re in St. Petersburg, FL, contact us at Walt Blenner Law Group, P.A. to ensure that all of this is done correctly.
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