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Include a Durable General Power of Attorney in Your Estate Plan

An important component of most all comprehensive estate plans is a document generally known as a Durable General Power of Attorney.  A Durable General Power of Attorney allows you to designate the person or party of your choice (known in Indiana as your “attorney-in-fact” and in many states as your “agent”) to have authority to manage your property and financial affairs during your lifetime in the event that you are unable to do so yourself due to incapacity resulting from such things as old age, dementia, illness, or injury.  If you so choose in your Durable General Power of Attorney, you may allow your attorney-in-fact to assist you not only during your incapacity, but also when you simply desire assistance for convenience purposes. This could prove to be helpful in various situations, such as where one’s spouse frequently travels and is often unavailable to sign documents or manage banking transactions.

Under a Durable General Power of Attorney you may authorize your attorney-in-fact to do such things as pay your bills, handle your banking transactions, buy and sell property, file income tax returns for you, and generally do just about everything that you can do with your property and financial affairs.  You may also designate one or more successor attorneys-in-fact who can act for you in the event that your original attorney-in-fact is unable or unwilling to do so.  It is important to ensure that your Durable General Power of Attorney contains appropriate powers, conditions, and provisions that fit your particular wishes and circumstances.  Ultimately, having a valid Durable General Power of Attorney in place will, in most cases, allow you to avoid the need to have a guardian appointed for you through the court system in the event of your incapacity.  Having a court-appointed guardian is a much more onerous and expensive process than simply executing a well-prepared Durable General Power of Attorney.

You are likely aware of the importance of having a Will in place to provide for the disposition of your assets at your death, but it is also important to include a Durable General Power of Attorney as a part of your estate plan that allows you to designate who will manage your property and financial affairs during your lifetime in the event the need arises.