Power of attorney is an essential estate planning tool that allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.
However, there are two types of powers of attorney: health care power of attorney and durable power of attorney.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the difference between the two, their scope, and why it’s essential to have both in your estate plan.
A health care power of attorney is a legal document allowing you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. This person, known as your health care agent, has the authority to consent, refuse, or withdraw medical treatment and make decisions related to your health care. This document becomes effective only if you become incapacitated and unable to decide for yourself.
A healthcare power of attorney is important because it ensures that your medical treatment preferences are respected even when you cannot communicate them. It’s important to choose someone you trust to act as your healthcare agent and to communicate your wishes and values to them in advance. This will help them make decisions that align with your wishes.
A durable power of attorney, on the other hand, is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf in financial and personal matters. This person, known as your attorney-in-fact or agent, can manage your financial affairs, pay your bills, buy or sell property, and make other financial decisions on your behalf.
Unlike the health care power of attorney, the durable power of attorney remains in effect even if you become incapacitated.
The durable power of attorney is vital because it allows someone you trust to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf when you cannot. It’s important to choose someone who is responsible and trustworthy and who has your best interests at heart.
The main difference between the health care and durable power of attorney is their scope. A health care power of attorney only allows your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf, while a durable power of attorney grants your agent broader powers in financial and personal matters.
Another key difference is that the health care power of attorney only becomes effective if you become incapacitated, while the durable power of attorney remains in effect even if you can make decisions independently. This means that your attorney-in-fact can act on your behalf in financial matters even if you’re not incapacitated.
While both documents are important, having both health care power of attorney and durable power of attorney in your estate plan is crucial. In an emergency, you need someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, but you also need someone to manage your financial affairs and make decisions on your behalf.
Without these documents, your loved ones may have to go through court proceedings to obtain guardianship or conservatorship to make decisions on your behalf. This can be a costly and time-consuming process that can be avoided by having these documents in place.
Powers of attorney are an essential part of estate planning, and it’s crucial to understand the difference between the health care power of attorney and durable power of attorney. While both documents serve different purposes, they are equally important in ensuring that your wishes are respected and that someone you trust is appointed to make decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated.
At Apple Payne Law, we understand the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan, including health care and durable power of attorney. If you need to update your estate plan or have questions about powers of attorney, please contact us for a consultation. We offer virtual consultations via Zoom or phone call and in-person consultations at our Kernersville office.