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Using a durable financial power of attorney

When considering how to protect your estate and establish your end-of-life wishes, it is very likely that you will assign a durable financial power of attorney to a representative. Such an appointment authorizes a person you choose to access your finances and take whatever actions are necessary to achieve your financial goals and keep up with your financial obligations.

This appointment, however, comes with a number of risks. One needs only to think of the scores of rock stars and actors whose personal fortunes dwindled quickly because someone with financial access decided to abuse his or her position. When you consider who to authorize with financial power of attorney, be sure to communicate your expectations and lay out consequences for unacceptable behavior.

You may also consider granting financial power of attorney without durability. In this instance, a person of your choosing receives financial power of attorney to act on your behalf for a set amount of time, or until you regain capacity to make financial decisions on your own. This might be useful in circumstances when you temporarily lose your ability to make decisions, such as with a serious illness. Once you recover from the illness or other incapacitation, you recover your authority and your representative no longer has financial power of attorney.

However you choose to proceed, it is important to understand the laws and guidelines surrounding durable financial power of attorney assignments. An experienced estate planning attorney can work with you to determine which planning tools best fit your needs and wishes, and ensure that your rights remain secure as you craft an estate plan that meets your demands and protects your legacy.

Source: FindLaw, "Durable Financial Power of Attorney," accessed Jan. 26, 2018

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