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Does your power of attorney do what you want it to do?

When St. Paul residents make important decisions, they usually do so thinking the decision will last, at least until it is time to change course or make a contrary decision. When it comes to estate planning, however, this may not always be the case unless individuals take care to execute the appropriate documents.

For instance, there are different ways of executing a power of attorney, which is a document that gives permission to another person to handle the individual's money or property. Depending on which way the document is drafted, it can have a major impact on how the document operates.

Typically, a power of attorney gives another person the power to take care of money or property, but it ceases to be good anymore if the individual who executed the document becomes mentally incompetent. This is not the case, however, if it is a durable power of attorney, which makes the document lasting. In other words, a durable power of attorney will continue allowing the person to have the power to make decisions on behalf of another, even in the event that individual becomes incompetent. Generally, only a court-appointed conservator can terminate a durable power of attorney.

In order to execute a durable power of attorney, individuals must specify their intent. By stating, for example, that the "power of attorney shall not be affected by incapacity of the principle," individuals can indicate their intention to form a durable power of attorney that continues to be in effect during times of incapacity.

Ultimately, this blog should not be considered legal advice. In order to properly execute a durable power of attorney, individuals should consult with an expert to ensure their wishes are followed and the correct legal forms and language are used.

Source: Legal Aid, "Powers of Attorney," accessed on Nov. 22, 2014

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