It’s vital to understand the estate planning instruments available to ensure your wishes are honored, particularly if you become incapacitated. Two essential tools are the Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) and the Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA). While both grant authority to a chosen individual to make decisions on your behalf, the DPOA and the MPOA serve very different and important functions.
- Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA): A DPOA is a legal document that gives a designated person, often referred to as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact,” the authority to handle your financial matters. This can include, but is not limited to, managing bank accounts, paying bills, overseeing investments, and selling property. The extent of the powers granted can be broad or specific, depending on the document’s wording. DPOAs can be effective immediately upon execution or can be come effective upon incapacitation.
- Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA): A MPOA, sometimes referred to as a Health Care Proxy or Health Care Power of Attorney, grants a chosen individual the power to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. This could be due to an accident, illness, or other incapacitating circumstances. The designated person, typically called a “health care agent,” can decide on treatments, surgeries, and other health-related matters for you. It’s crucial to note that the MPOA comes into play when you’re unable to communicate your medical preferences. It is not an advanced directive or living will, which provides specific instructions regarding end-of-life care.
While both the DPOA and MPOA play pivotal roles in estate planning, they cater to different areas of one’s life. The DPOA addresses financial matters and the MPOA addresses health decisions. Choosing trustworthy individuals for both roles is essential to ensure that your preferences are upheld during unforeseen circumstances.
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