When it comes to making serious decisions about your care when you are not of sound mind, a durable power of attorney can go a long way in ensuring that your wishes are carried out by a legally authorized representative who will abide by your wishes and make informed and rational decisions for you. The legal responsibility that comes with granting durable power of attorney is heavy; however failure to appoint power of attorney to a trusted and knowledgeable associate can be severely detrimental to both you and your loved ones. Durable power of attorney forms are available, for free, here.

What is a durable power of attorney?

Durable power of attorney is a written document in which you, as the “principal”, appoint someone to act in your stead in in the event of your incapacitation. This person is known as the “attorney-in-fact”, and has broad legal authority when it comes to making decisions involving your health and well-being, as well as legal decisions involving finances and estate. Durable power of attorney forms are a relatively simple and easy to understand legal instrument, and can be completed by anyone, and a lawyer is not typically required. Having a durable power of attorney for health care is an intelligent and preventative decision that requires forethought and good judgment, and should not be undertaken without serious contemplation beforehand.

Sample of a durable power of attorney form

The difference between conventional and durable power of attorney is straightforward. A conventional power of attorney grants your attorney-in-fact legal authority when you sign it, and becomes null and void when you become mentally unable to make your own informed,  rational decisions. The problem with this sort of power of attorney is that many people need decisions to be made while they are incapacitated, but a conventional power of attorney only grants that right when specifically stated in the paperwork. By contrast, a durable power of attorney form states that, while like a conventional power of attorney it begins at signing, but continues until your death. This is a very important facet of durable power of attorney for health care, as you will not be able to revoke or cancel the durable power of attorney while incapacitated.

Why would someone need a durable power of attorney?

Whereas a conventional POA is designed to be limited in scope, a durable power of attorney for health care is designed to execute in the event of your incapacitation. Examples include a coma, a serious mental illness, or an accident that damages your brain and cognitive functions beyond repair. In these situations, it is crucial that you have a trusted agent with good judgment and through knowledge of your wishes to make important medical and financial decisions for you when you are no longer able to. Durable power of attorney forms are very specific when it comes to the legal powers and responsibilities granted to your chosen attorney-in-fact, but should be carefully prepared in clear and concise language to avoid any confusion.

Many people have a durable power of attorney for health care reasons, and high risk professionals such as law enforcement, firefighters, and members of the United States military and Department of Defense are required to have them due to the hazardous nature of their jobs. These are not the only people who hold durable power of attorney however, and it is advisable for anyone with a potentially debilitating health condition or a high risk occupation to have a durable power of attorney in the name of a trusted and knowledgeable agent. Accidents do happen, and the average person holding a durable power of attorney for health care is much more likely to receive the care and consideration that they themselves would want. A free durable power of attorney form is available for download on powerofattorneytemplate.org.

A common question when thinking about a durable power of attorney is who to grant it to. An while many people select their significant other or another relative, another popular option is to have an objective and knowledgeable outsider, such as a general practitioner or attorney, assume power of attorney. This is an attractive option, because while they may not be as intimately familiar with a person’s life and wishes, they can make tough decisions with a clear and level head when members of the immediate family may be experiencing a tremendous amount of emotional pain. It is best to give this responsibility to someone you can explicitly trust with both your health and your finances, as while you are incapacitated, they hold final legal authority as to your medical decisions. Waiting until you are already incapacitated is not an option when deciding about a power of attorney, and is there is a dispute, can prolong necessary and vital decisions while the matter is resolved in the courts.

Sample of free durable power of attorney form

Where can I find durable power of attorney forms, and what are the differences between the ways to get them?

Durable power of attorney forms are available in many venues, and many people would run to a lawyer’s office to have one written up. A competent lawyer can give you a consultation, write up a durable power of attorney form, and fill out and file it for you. They will also charge you an exorbitant fee for this service, often running into the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Luckily, this can be sidestepped, as a durable power of attorney form is a relatively simple legal document to prepare, and durable power of attorney forms for health care are available for free from this site. Rather than paying an attorney a substantial amount of money to write up this straightforward legal document, downloading a durable power of attorney form online, printing it and filling it out yourself can potentially save you hundreds of dollars. Get your printable durable power of attorney form here.

While it can be a frightening thought, having a durable power of attorney is an intelligent and rational decision, which can save you and your loved ones much pain and effort when it comes to making difficult medical decisions. They are a comparatively cheap and effective way to ensure that your wishes are carried out if you are ever involved in an accident or incapacitated in another way, and a durable power of attorney helps to take some of the uncertainty out of difficult medical decisions for your family.

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