Q: Hello, My husband has a durable power of attorney for healthcare. Does that cover the financial end as well as being
able to make other decisions or does he need another POA to do that?
Health Care Directives generally only cover health care decisions after a person is no longer able to handle their own decisions due to the loss of their mental capacity, as certified by a physician (as well as any other requirements listed in the directive.)
Durable Power of Attorneys do the same thing, except they generally relate to everything other than health care decisions. The checkbox form some people use may be a valid legal document (a lawyer would obviously have to read it to ensure that’s the case), but that form is sometimes rejected in practice because it is too vague and doesn’t say what exact powers the agent has. Just saying someone has power over real estate doesn’t mean the person has the power to refinance a mortgage, for example. Estate planning lawyers usually draft detailed documents that most companies will accept without fear of being sued.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare typically only authorizes the agent (in this case, your husband) to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal (the person who granted the power of attorney). It does not typically authorize the agent to make financial or other non-healthcare-related decisions for the principal.
If your husband needs to make financial decisions or manage your affairs on your behalf, you may want to consider creating a separate durable power of attorney for finances. This would authorize your husband to manage your finances, pay bills, and make other financial decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.
It's important to note that powers of attorney can vary in scope and can be customized to fit the specific needs and wishes of the principal. It may be helpful to consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning to determine the best approach for your situation and to ensure that your legal documents accurately reflect your wishes.
Dear Frank and Jama,
No, Power of Attorney for Finances and Power of Attorney for Health Care decisions are almost invariably different documents. The good news is that you can have this quickly and affordably taken care of. Many attorneys offer free consultations either through phone, FaceTime, or an office visit. I recommend that you have a comprehensive consultation and map out a roadmap for a complete estate plan. This will give family and executors/administrators much-needed peace of mind.
Best of luck with this.
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