Why a durable power of attorney is as important as a will

This article looks at three advantages of appointing a durable power of attorney.

When it comes to estate planning, meaning people make the mistake of thinking that the only document they really need is a will. While a will is certainly important for laying out one's final wishes, especially in respect to the distribution of an estate, it is relatively limited when it comes to addressing what happens if one is mentally or physically incapacitated. The fact is that mental and physical incapacity can strike anyone at anytime and it is important that one's financial affairs are taken care of by a trustworthy individual if such an event were to happen. That is why, as Forbes points out, a durable power of attorney is one of the most important estate planning documents people can have. Here are three reasons why.

Keep control over one's finances

A durable power of attorney allows an individual to appoint somebody to manage his or her financial affairs on his or her behalf should that person become mentally or physically incompetent. By choosing such an agent, those appointing a durable power of attorney are able to take greater control over how their financial affairs will be handled. As Nasdaq notes, the agent chosen should have a good understanding of one's financial goals, both in the short and long-term. Without a durable power of attorney, an agent may be chosen by the court, who may not always be aware of what one's financial plans are.

Avoid family conflicts

Another advantage of a power of attorney is that it mitigates the likelihood of conflict erupting between loved ones if one is incapacitated. Without a power of attorney, the person who is seeking to act as one's agent will likely have to go to court in order to be granted that right. Additionally, family members may disagree about whether the person petitioning the court is actually best suited to handle one's financial affairs. A durable power of attorney, by making one's wishes clear beforehand, can help lessen the likelihood of these disagreements arising.

Save time and money

Finally, a durable power of attorney can save time and money in the long run. As noted above, a durable power of attorney means that a loved one will not have to petition the court to make financial decisions on your behalf. Getting permission from the court to act on an incapacitated individual's behalf can be costly. Furthermore, it can take a lot of time, during which one's investments may be going unchecked and uncared for.

Estate planning law

An experienced estate planning attorney can help those who have any concerns about estate planning or administration, including with durable powers of attorney. Such an attorney can provide individuals and families with guidance and peace of mind when planning for the future.