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Why you need a durable power of attorney

Estate plans aren't just for designating how your assets will be distributed after you die. An estate plan can and should designate who will handle your financial affairs and oversee your medical care if you are unable to make sound decisions or become incapacitated.

Here in Arizona, the person in charge of health care decisions is also called a health care power of attorney (POA). Along with appointing a health care POA, you can specify the resuscitative measures you wish to have taken or withheld at the end of life. Drafting an advance directive can save your loved ones uncertainty about what your intentions are.

A POA for finances gives another individual authority to make financial and legal decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself. This person can also handle routine things like paying bills if you are unable to handle that responsibility. When you designate someone as your POA, you can and should specify precisely what he or she has the authority to do (pay bills, sell assets, handle tax issues and so forth).

It's essential that you and your loved ones create your estate plans and designate your POAs while you're still of sound mind. It's also important to talk with the people you plan to designate as your agents to handle your financial and medical affairs to make sure that they are willing and able to take on what can be a difficult job.

Arizona estate planning attorneys help people determine what documents they should include based on their individual situations. They also can provide guidance for talking with your family and loved ones about your estate plan and your wishes. No one enjoys having these conversations, but they can help avoid family conflict later on.

Source: AgingCare.com, "What Is Durable Power of Attorney?," accessed Oct. 06, 2017

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