A durable power of attorney (POA) is a legal document which can be used to choose who will manage your affairs should you become incapacitated for some reason. A power of attorney appoints an agent and then provides that agent with wide-ranging authority over your affairs. The most common type of authority is over health care and finances. A power of attorney may also be limited to very specific matters or transactions as you wish. For example, you could give your agent the power to handle all financial transactions on your behalf or you could give your agent only the power to manage your rental property while you’re out of the country. You could establish a POA that is only effective if you become incapacitated or one that goes into effect immediately.
While the most common time to start thinking about establishing a POA is when someone is elderly or when someone faces a serious health crisis, there are several other reasons a person may want or need a POA. For example, military personnel may create a POA before they deploy overseas, so someone can act on their behalf while they are gone. Younger people who travel a great deal might set up a POA so that someone could handle their affairs.
There is a definite benefit to being able to personally choose the agent to handle your affairs. If you do not select that person now, and you later become incapacitated, a judge will decide who gets to act for you and it may not be the person you want. For most people, the opportunity to make that decision themselves is very important. In selecting an agent, you should consider the attributes of your friends and family and determine whom you would trust most to manage your personal affairs when the time comes.
Another major benefit of creating a durable power of attorney is the ability to do away with confusion and ambiguity as to how your personal affairs should be handled. A well-drafted durable power of attorney can help you avoid the frequent family disputes as to how your financial and healthcare matters should be handled.
In 2018, the Kentucky Legislature enacted a new set of laws pertaining to POAs executed and used in Kentucky. It is strongly recommended that you have an attorney help draft your POA to ensure it complies with state laws and handles your wishes as you want. The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey are happy to help with all your POA and estate planning needs.