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Estate Planning: Powers of Attorney

Estate Planning is a vital part of life everyone must consider – not just the “rich” or the “elderly,” as many assume. Estate Planning is not just about planning for death or how assets will be distributed, but includes planning for life’s emergencies, such as illness or incapacity. If you are in a car accident, who will pay the bills? If you become medically incapacitated or suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, who will make medical or everyday decisions? These are all-too-real events that occur unexpectedly and leave family members unprepared and at odds. The easiest way to avoid conflict or confusion is to identify and name a Power of Attorney.

A Power of Attorney acts on your behalf as an “agent” to resolve issues when you are unable to do so. A Power of Attorney covers medical and/or financial matters and allows you to select the right person to step in and make decisions consistent with how you would act. Many people name a family member, child, or spouse as their power of attorney. In some cases, the best choice is to name co-agents. Appointing the appropriate person is key to ensuring your wishes are carried out in the event of an emergency.

What is a Statutory Durable Power of Attorney?

A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document authorizing an individual to act on your behalf in various financial areas. Your appointed agent can pay bills, manage your property, and enter contracts on your behalf during your lifetime. A Statutory Durable Power of Attorney becomes effective immediately in the event you become incapacitated for any reason and terminates upon death.

What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A Medical Power of Attorney allows an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf, during your lifetime, if you are unable to do so. A Medical Power of Attorney becomes effective immediately in the event of incapacity and terminates upon death.


Importantly, any Power of Attorney can be changed at any time (as long as you still have capacity). Keeping these documents current allows you to maintain control and decision-making in accordance with your wishes. Estate planning does not have to be dreadful!