The durable power of attorney is an important document to have in your estate planning portfolio. It allows a person you trust to make financial and health care decisions on your behalf if you cannot make these decisions on your own. Absent a durable power of attorney, court-ordered guardianship is the only way someone else can deal with your affairs in the event you become incapacitated.
At minimum, a durable power of attorney should give the named agent the ability to handle routine financial and health care matters, such as paying bills, opening mail, buying and selling real and personal property, making deposits to and withdrawals from bank accounts and consenting to medical treatments. In addition, there are less obvious things that one should consider including. Among these are the power to manage digital assets and obtain passwords to email and social media accounts, the power to fund recreation and travel and the power to provide for pet animals. If there’s a possibility that you could someday require long-term care in a nursing home, you might also want to empower your agent to make gifts and spend down your estate in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
This is not a comprehensive overview of everything that goes into a durable power of attorney. In doing your estate planning, you should talk with your estate planning lawyer not only about what powers to include but also about who to name as your agent, which is a crucial decision.