Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Why Your Older Parent Needs a Durable Power of Attorney in Place

Estate planning is important at any age. This is true regardless of your level of wealth. It can be, however, even more urgent when you are entering your golden years. While none of us are immune to unexpected injury or illness that could leave us incapacitated or unable to care for ourselves or manage our finances and other matters, risks can increase with the aging process. This is important for everyone to acknowledge. If you have an aging parent who does not have an estate plan in place, it is important that you talk to them about this. While estate planning includes directing your assets to the right beneficiaries after you pass, it also involves putting critical protections in place for your best interests and wishes while you are still alive. Take the durable power of attorney, for instance. A durable power of attorney can be a legal document of key importance in a comprehensive estate plan. Let’s talk about why your older parent needs a durable power of attorney in place sooner rather than later.

Why Your Older Parent Needs a Durable Power of Attorney in Place

Why does your older parent need a durable power of attorney in place sooner rather than later? Because it is too important to put off. A power of attorney is a legal tool established by the principal and granting authority to someone else, the agent, to act on behalf of the principal in a range of matters that can include finances, property management, and healthcare matters. When a power of attorney is durable, it means that the power granted to the agent under the document will survive in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated.

Powers of attorney established in Arkansas are durable by default. This means that a power of attorney will be durable and survive incapacitation of the principal unless the document explicitly states otherwise. This is the default as it is understood that most people who put a power of attorney in place do so with the intent to grant the agent authority in the event of incapacitation.

One of the biggest reasons why it is so important for an aging parent to have a durable power of attorney in place is the fact that having such a legal tool established can help avoid the need for guardianship to be established should the parent become incapacitated. Guardianships are established when the ward does not have the ability to take care of himself or herself. While guardianships can be necessary, they can also involve a substantial amount of work as well as being very expensive. If an aging parent puts a durable power of attorney in place when he or she is still competent, then a guardianship can often be avoided as the agent under the durable power of attorney can handle much of the tasks assigned to a guardian.

The difference between a durable power of attorney and guardianship, however, is important and there are many benefits to having a durable power of attorney in place in lieu of waiting for guardianship to be necessary. For instance, with a durable power of attorney, the principal is empowered to select who acts as the agent whereas a guardian is selected by and supervised by the court. Furthermore, the principal has the ability to end the power of attorney at any time and there is no need to go to court in order to establish a power of attorney as you do for guardianship. Last, but not least, a durable power of attorney is relatively inexpensive to put in place while guardianship can be quite costly.

Estate Planning Attorneys

Do not delay in putting a comprehensive estate plan in place. Talk to your loved ones about doing the same. You can count on the team at Hyden, Miron & Foster to put a strong estate plan in place that meets your needs and goals. Contact us today.

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