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A durable power of attorney: what it is and what it does

Loved ones often have conversations in which they discuss what should happen if they become incapacitated due to health problems. There is a way for loved ones in Monroeville to formalize their wishes in this area. They can use a document called a durable power of attorney to set out what should happen in these cases.

A power of attorney is simply a written document in which a person -- called a principal -- gives authorization to another person -- called an agent -- to handle the principal's affairs. Powers of attorney have been used in business for a long time. It became clear that a power of attorney could be used for principals to express their wishes if they became incapacitated due to illness.

Pennsylvania lawmakers created the durable power of attorney to handle the situation where a principal wants to empower an agent to make decisions when the principal is incapacitated. Before a principal becomes incapacitated, they can create a durable power of attorney to authorize an agent to handle the principal's financial decisions, health care decisions or both.

When should someone create a durable power of attorney document? A great time to do so is when a person puts together their estate plan. A durable power of attorney can work well with an estate plan to help a principal achieve their estate planning goals. It is never too late to create a durable power of attorney document, and people who already have valid estate plans can add a durable power of attorney to the mix.

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