Most of us do not like to think about it, but what happens if we are unable to make our own decisions regarding our health and finances? Who is going to make those decisions for us? Are the decisions being made what we would decide if we could? Having a durable power of attorney in Washington state is the best way to ensure decisions are being made the way you would want them to be.
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a legally binding document naming an individual or individuals (called an agent) to make health care, financial, and end-of-life decisions for another person. All adults should have one of these in the event there is an accident or sudden death.
A durable power of attorney in Washington state authorizes an agent to:
- Make health care decisions for you or your minor children
- If you would like to have life-sustaining procedures withheld or withdrawn in the case of a terminal illness, you may also want to create a living will or advance directive to go along with your Power of Attorney.
- Buy or sell items for you
- Manage your business
- Collect Debts
- Invest money
- Cash checks
- Manage financial matters
- Sue on behalf of the principal
You do not have to include all above items. You can personalize your durable power of attorney to fit what you need or want in the event someone needs to make decisions for you. Limiting it to just being able to sign on your behalf if you become unable is an example of that. Your agent can not, however, act on your behalf after you die. A durable power of attorney is not a substitute for a will and will terminate upon your death or on a specific date if you so choose.
A durable power of attorney in Washington State must be notarized. After it is notarized, you want to give the original to your agent(s) and keep a copy for yourself.
Who Can Help Create a Durable Power of Attorney in WA state?
The fact that a durable power of attorney is a legal document may make some people shy away from creating one because they think that it will be difficult. You can get help to create a durable power of attorney in Washington State.
Estate Planning Attorney
You can use an estate planning attorney but do not have to by law. Using a legal professional can simplify the process and answer any questions you may have. It is very important that you understand all decisions that you are making and what affects they will have before signing a legal document. An attorney can also make your DPOA individualized. There are forms on the internet that can be printed, but they are very broad.
Loved One or Trusted Friend
Having a family member help you create a durable power of attorney is another option. Make sure you discuss with them what you want so that they can help you fill out the required paperwork accordingly. If the person helping you is going to be your agent, make sure they agree to your wishes before asking them.
If you feel comfortable enough, you can fill out your own DPOA without help. Make sure you understand the document and what it is asking. Be sure to choose a trusted person to act as your agent. Most importantly, make sure they are willing to act as your agent.
Having durable power of attorney is an important step in your future. It can be hard emotionally and mentally fill out. Remember, if you do not feel comfortable doing it yourself you can contact an attorney to help you.