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What makes a durable power of attorney different?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2023 | Power of Attorney

When people discuss powers of attorney, they often describe the documents based on the authority that these resources delegate. People can create financial powers of attorney that authorize an agent or attorney-in-fact to access their resources and handle their financial responsibilities. They can also put together medical powers of attorney that can designate someone to act as their agent if they have a major medical incident.

Adults in Michigan of any age could benefit from adding powers of attorney to their estate plans. In addition to considering documents authorizing a trusted individual to handle financial and medical matters in the event of a short-term emergency, people may want to consider drafting durable powers of attorney. What makes durable powers of attorney different from standard power of attorney paperwork?

Durable documents their authority for longer

There are three scenarios in which power of attorney paperwork would lose its authority. The first is when the principal who drafted the documents dies. Then, their estate planning paperwork has control over resources and other major decisions. The second is when the principal recovers from a debilitating condition and can begin managing their own affairs.

The final reason that powers of attorney lose their authority is that the principal becomes permanently incapacitated. Particularly if people take the matter to court in pursuit of guardianship, the courts could determine that someone now lacks testamentary capacity, which might affect the usefulness of standard power of attorney documents.

However, durable power of attorney documents retain their legal authority even if someone has permanent medical issues. Whether someone is in a coma or develops dementia, durable power of attorney paperwork can remain in effect. These documents can protect someone from guardianship and conservatorship. When there is already someone authorized to manage a person’s affairs, it isn’t necessary for others to go to court to seek authority over a vulnerable adult.

In this way, a principal can essentially select the person who might control their finances or medical decisions when they can no longer manage everything on their own behalf. Durable powers of attorney are very useful for individuals concerned about what might happen when they can no longer manage their own medical care or finances.