When you meet with your attorney to create your durable power of attorney, your primary goal is likely to be naming a person you trust to act as your agent. Your agent will have the legal authority to make decisions for you, should you no longer be able to do so yourself. The estate planning attorney you meet with can guide you to select the right person based on your circumstances, needs, and goals.

Your attorney should discuss your current needs with you but also look to the future. The durable power of attorney is an estate planning tool. As such, it could be used today, if you were in a serious car accident that left you unconscious, or twenty years from now when you are a senior in need of long-term care.

Unfortunately, many estate planners only focus on right now. They do not look to the future and what your changing needs could be. As estate planning and elder law attorneys, we know that our clients may someday need long-term care and not have the necessary funds to pay for it. We want to share the significant complications we have seen arise from these durable powers of attorney when they do not contain the authority necessary to make long-term care decisions.

1. The authority to plan for long term care.

Many powers of attorney do not contemplate long-term care planning options. This could include, but not be limited to, utilizing strategies such as making gifts of your money, hiring family caregivers or liquidating retirement accounts. Although it may seem strange right now, you do not want to be in a position that your agent does not have this authority should it be necessary.

2. The authority to make gifts to your agent or to family members.

There are different reasons why you may not want your agent or your family members to benefit monetarily from you. In certain long-term care planning strategies, however, that may be exactly you want to ensure that your family receives your hard earned money instead of having it depleted by a nursing home.

3. The authority to file an application for benefits.

Although it may seem strange, more and more states are becoming stringent that your agent must have specific authority to file an application for public benefits. Make sure this authority is granted to your agent for this specific circumstance.

Before you decide to revise you power of attorney, you need to know how important these provisions are and what the lack of implementation can mean for you. The key here is that you can give your agent the authority to handle your needs in the future. Do not wait.  Check today to see if your estate planning documents have the planning tools you need within them.

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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about trust and estate planning, veterans issues, and how to protect what matters most.

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