What is the Difference Between Healthcare and Financial Durable Powers of Attorney?

Posted on: Dec 21, 2016

Powers of attorney allow you to appoint a spouse, relative, or trusted friend as your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” in order to make decisions about healthcare or financial matters on your behalf. These legal documents allow your agent to sign documents, make decisions, and generally handle your affairs, just as if the attorney-in-fact were you. Powers of attorney should be “durable,” so that your attorney-in-fact can make decisions on your behalf, even if you become sick or injured to the point that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your own.
A financial durable power of attorney gives your agent the power to make deposits to or withdrawals from any bank account in your name, remove or add items to your safety deposit box, to sell, exchange, or transfer title to any stock, bonds, or other securities that you own, and to sell, convey, or encumber any property that you own, whether it is real estate or personal property. You also can give your agent special powers as you choose. Special powers include the power to change your beneficiary designations, create, amend, or revoke a living trust on your behalf, and make gifts to others of your money or property. Your agent also must keep records of all of your finances while the power of attorney is in effect. Under a financial durable power of attorney, you keep all of your rights to make financial decisions as long as you are able to do so; an agent typically only begins to act on your behalf after you have become incapacitated and unable to make decisions.
A healthcare durable power of attorney, on the other hand, does not give your agent any power to make financial decisions or handle your finances in any way. As is the case with a financial power of attorney, you retain the right to make all of your own medical decisions so long as you are able to do so. However, when you become incapacitated, your agent has the power to make medical decisions on your behalf, to access all of your medical records and information, to give and revoke consent to medical treatment, to give and revoke consent to being admitted to a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other institution, and to visit you at any medical facility. However, a healthcare durable power of attorney does not permit your agent to arrange for or commit you to be admitted to a mental institution.
The Tri-Cities Estate Planning lawyers of Elder Law Group PLLC pride themselves on creating comprehensive estate plans that address all of their clients’ needs, whether the areas of major concern involve powers of attorney or other Estate Planning documents. The process of Estate Planning can be complex, and each individual’s situation is quite different. Therefore, it is essential to tailor each estate plan to a party’s particular needs. Our goal is to achieve all of your objectives by creating the estate plan that is right for you and your family. Don’t hesitate to call our office today at 509.468.0551 and learn how we can help.