Durable Power of Attorney in DC and Maryland

When do you need it and Why

Some Things You need to Know.


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Durable Power of Attorney: When do you need it and why?

Power of Attorney in DC

What if one day you are unable to tell your doctors what kind of medical treatment you want, or you are unable to manage your financial affairs? It sounds so grime to consider these possibilities.  However, everyone will face this kind of difficulty.  A durable power of attorney makes life easier for you and your family when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.

What is a Power of Attorney?

It is a legal instrument that gives someone else the power to act on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so.  In the event that you become mentally incapacitated, the trusted person you name in the POA will act on your behalf. For example, he/she will pay your bills, manage your investments, or direct your medical care.  A durable power of attorney simply means that the document stays in effect if you become incapacitated and unable to handle matters on your own.

To effectively cover all issues, you will most likely need two separate legal documents: one for healthcare related issues and another related to the management of your finances. 

What is a Medical Power of Attorney

 A medical power of attorney is a health care directive that sets out your wishes for health care if you are ever too ill or injured to speak for yourself.  The trusted person you named in this document will oversee your medical care and make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so.  When arranging your care, your healthcare agent is legally bound to follow your treatment preferences you specify in your directive.  This can also be known as a “living will”.  For example, you may wish to withhold life sustaining procedures when your doctors determine that your condition is terminal and imminent.

What is a Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney is a legal instrument that gives the power to handle your finances to someone else whom you designate.  Some financial POAs are very simple and used for single transactions, such as closing a real estate deal. But the power of attorney we’re discussing here is comprehensive.  It is designed to let someone else manage all of your financial affairs for you if you become incapacitated. It’s called a “durable power of attorney for finances.”

With a durable power of attorney for finances, your trusted person has as much authority as you do over your finances. The person you name is usually called your “attorney-in-fact,” but he or she doesn’t have to be an attorney.

Your agent can handle day-to-day tasks such as sorting through your mail and depositing your Social Security checks, as well as more complex jobs like watching over your retirement accounts and other investments, or filing your tax returns. Your agent doesn’t have to be a financial expert; just someone you trust completely and has a good common sense. If necessary, your agent can hire professionals (paying them out of your assets) to assist in financial planning, etc.

Why Do You Need Separate Documents for Medical Care and Finances?

You may wonder why you can’t cover health care matters and finances in just one power of attorney document. It is not advisable to mix the two in one legal document.  Making separate legal instruments will keep life simpler for your agent and others.

For example, your health care documents are likely to be full of personal details, and perhaps feelings, that your financial broker doesn’t need to know. Likewise, your health care professionals don’t need to know the details of your finances.

Having said that, it is probably a good idea to have the same person to handle both your healthcare decisions as well as financial affairs.  Otherwise, you will need to make sure the two people you have chosen can work well together for your benefit.