A power of attorney (POA) grants to one individual – the agent – the legal authority to handle certain identified matters for another. When made durable, the POA remains in effect even if the individual who has granted the authority – the principal – becomes incapacitated.
Issues commonly addressed by a durable POA include health and financial matters. While valuable, a durable POA may not always present the best option for every estate plan.
How long does a POA last and is it revocable?
The vast scope of durable POA extends through almost every area of an individual’s life. Financial decisions can include filing taxes, applying for government benefits and managing a bank account.
Conversely, the duration of a POA has a defined endpoint: death of the principal. Indiana law does provide for some exceptions, however. A will becomes effective at death, so only an executor has legal authority.
While selecting an individual for a POA requires their consent and capacity, revoking a durable POA requires more steps.
What other options exist besides a POA?
Other estate planning tools remain available depending on specific circumstances. These include:
- Living will: This expresses the principal’s desires for medical choices and treatment, such as breathing tubes, if incapacitated owing to an illness. A durable POA allows an agent to decide only when the principal has become mentally incapacitated.
- Living trust: This permits an individual to maintain control over only property within the trust while they are alive.
- Medical POA and advanced directive: The former permits a principal to make medical decisions on your behalf; the latter applies only to medical matters, such as treatments to receive.
Complications from poor health can appear without warning. The consequences of the failure to plan for the possible will leave an individual’s family, friends and possessions without certainty.
An attorney familiar with the probate process in Indiana can offer guidance.