Woman signing estate planning document

The Importance of a Durable Power of Attorney in Incapacity Planning

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

The fact is that none of us are immune from the possibility of a sudden medical emergency or sustaining a devastating injury in an accident. Such unpredictable events can leave a person incapacitated and unable to manage affairs or make critical medical decisions. The fact that any of us could become incapacitated makes it critical to engage in incapacity planning. This can be done during the estate planning process and involves the establishment of legal tools to protect a person’s wishes in the event of incapacitation. One of the most important documents involved in incapacity planning is the durable power of attorney.

The Importance of a Durable Power of Attorney in Incapacity Planning

With a power of attorney, a person, known as the “principal,” grants authority to another, known as the “agent.” The power granted can be general or limited depending on the wishes of the principal. When a durability feature is added to a power of attorney, the power granted to the agent survives even in the event of the principal’s incapacitation.

Think about what putting a durable power of attorney in place means. It means that you get to select a trusted individual to act on your behalf in matters spanning from financial management to health care decisions. Selecting the right agent is of key importance when establishing a power of attorney. You, of course, want someone you trust. You also want someone you trust in managing your affairs in a way that reflects your own wishes. You want someone organized and with a cool head. Agents under a durable power of attorney are often faced with making difficult decisions under less than optimal circumstances. A cool, clear head in the midst of unforeseen, often emotional circumstances can be critical.

One of the biggest benefits of putting a durable power of attorney in place means that the need for establishing guardianship can be avoided or, at the very least, delayed. Guardianship is ordered when an incapacitated individual does not have a durable power of attorney in place but is unable to manage their own affairs. If you put a durable power of attorney in place while you still had capacity, then guardianship would be unnecessary. This is a big benefit because of the extremely restrictive nature of a guardianship. The incapacitated individual, or the “ward,” relinquishes basic personal freedoms. The guardianship is court-monitored. It is expensive, time-consuming, and rife with red tape. Putting a durable power of attorney in place will save you and your loved ones a great deal of frustration, heartache, and money.

Minnesota Trusts and Estates Attorney

Do you have a durable power of attorney in place? Now is the time to execute this important legal document if you have not done so already. Unique Estate Law is here to help you do just that. Contact us today.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.