When accidents and disasters happen, prepared people can cope while the unwary suffer avoidable complications. How might an incapacitated or unconscious individual preserve their assets for intended use?
A durable power of attorney (DPA) is a valuable tool to safeguard an estate.
DPA use dangerously low
A 2019 study by Age Wave and Merrill Lynch found that only 18% of adults over 55 have prepared a will, a living will and a DPA. The three documents cooperate to protect a person’s assets.
Any adult with belongings to pass on needs a DPA. The process to draw up the form is not as intimidating as it might seem, but the document usually requires professional assistance to ensure it stands up in case of a legal challenge.
What a DPA does
The maker of the DPA is the “principal.” The principal selects an agent who can act on the principal’s behalf. While agents are often assigned to intervene for an unconscious person, it can be wise to delegate an agent who can be a representative to handle necessary business at any time the principal cannot, such as when ill or traveling.
A principal should create a DPA while in sound mind. Suspicions and legal challenges can arise when an individual draws up a DPA shortly before death or while in a compromised mental state. It is vital to assign a well-trusted agent who will make decisions according to the principal’s wishes. As with a will and living will, the time for any adult to prepare a DPA is now.
A DPA can help ensure that inheritors receive their rightful inheritance and sustain a loved one’s legacy.