Power of Attorney/Advance Health Care Directives

Planning for the client’s incapacity is an integral part of estate planning. There are numerous devices for handling incapacity, namely: A durable power of attorney for financial management (DPOA), and an advance health care directive (AHCD). These are foundational tools for handling incapacity, often employed as backup devices for other methods. The DPOA and AHCD can aid anyone who loses his or her ability to make personal, financial, or health care decisions. The main purpose of the DPOA and the AHCD is to ensure that a trusted nominee is ready and authorized to act if needed, thereby avoiding the expense and potential conflict of a conservatorship proceeding in the event of incapacity and the unavailability of suitable alternatives.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances is a document by which you name a legal representative to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated. Be very careful who you select to give your durable power of attorney. You must have complete faith and trust in this person.

An Advance Health Care Directive names someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. This used to be known as a “Living Will” or a Medical Power of Attorney”. It expresses your wishes regarding life support and health care. This is a separate document from your durable power of attorney for finances. You may wish to appoint one person to handle your financial affairs and another to make health decisions for you.