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3 key details that affect the usefulness of powers of attorney

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Testators (those putting together estate plans) in Colorado frequently aim to keep things as simple as possible but that approach might leave them without adequate protection. Just having a will, for example, might mean that someone does not have the right support if they experience a personal medical emergency.

Powers of attorney are among the many secondary documents that people can choose to add to estate plans. These documents allow someone to authorize a specific individual to manage matters on their behalf if they cannot communicate their wishes or lack the capacity to enforce their desires, if they are in a coma, for example. The best protection comes from having carefully-crafted documents that focus on an individual’s unique needs. For example, the following three details can make all the difference regarding the usefulness of a power of attorney.

The agent selected

The agent or attorney-in-fact that someone names in their power of attorney will have a very important role. It will be their job to communicate with medical professionals or manage someone’s finances. Those who are very cautious when selecting their agent or attorney-in-fact may feel safer because they trust the person who would assume control over theirs at Affairs in an emergency.

Language to make the documents durable

Powers of attorney are often only necessary for a short amount of time during which someone remains incapacitated. An agent might use their authority for a few weeks while someone remains in a medically-induced coma after suffering a brain injury, for example. However, some medical challenges will leave an individual permanently incapacitated. Including language to ensure that a power of attorney is durable and therefore retains its authority even after someone’s permanent loss of testamentary capacity can help protect someone from guardianship and the loss of legal authority later in life.

Limits to the authority transferred

Boilerplate powers of attorney may extend direct control over most of someone’s property to their agent or attorney-in-fact. The person drafting the documents always has the option of very carefully limiting what authority they grant their agent. They might provide access only to specific financial resources or only grant someone authority to fulfill specific tasks on their behalf. Those who worry that others might eventually misuse the authority granted in powers of attorney will often feel more confident about drafting these important documents if they include specific limitations on when and how someone utilizes their authority.

Thinking carefully about the details included in power of attorney paperwork may give someone more peace of mind and more protection than they would otherwise be able to benefit from, should an emergency arise.