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What is a durable power of attorney?

People may put off making an estate plan for a lot of reasons. They may feel they're too early in life, or they may assume their plans are so simple that they inevitably work in probate. But, just like there is always a reason to avoid estate planning, there is always a good reason for adults to address the subject as soon and as often as possible.

  • What are the main parts of an estate plan?

A last will and testament is the most commonly known part, as it lists the assets that a person may distribute to inheritors. Early planning may involve trusts or other instruments that set aside assets for others before the owner's death. A durable power of attorney is lesser-known part of estate planning -- but often very important in the period of time that may come before a person's death.

  • What is a durable power of attorney?

A person who has someone's power of attorney may make specific decisions regarding that person's health care if the patient cannot be consulted due to infirmity or the inability to understand the request. This may include the use of a respirator or other life-preserving technology when physicians have no expectation of recovery for the patient.

  • Can a person set his or her own directives?

A person may also create an advanced health care directive which states their medical care preferences for future use. This may specify if a person wishes extraordinary measures to be taken to preserve life.

An attorney is often a good ally when it is time to make or remake estate plans. Legal representation may ease the creation of documents that spell out preferences.

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