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Author: Brenton McWilliams

Why are a Financial Power Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney Important in Alabama?

The durable power of attorney is a relatively modern legal invention created as an alternative to avoid the long-existing, more costly, more frustrating process of the appointment of a conservator or guardian in probate court. By taking action in advance, an individual can use a power of attorney to select someone they trust who will care for them and make decisions regarding finances and healthcare without the need for oversight from the court. This is what estate planning attorneys refer to as incapacity planning. As life expectancies increase, it has become increasingly important to set things up in advance to ease the burden on caregivers. Thus, the importance of incapacity planning.

If necessary, the ability to appoint a conservator or guardian through the probate court is always there, but the power of attorney provides a better alternative for multiple reasons. First, you have the opportunity to select the person who will serve as the agent under the power of attorney. In contrast, for a guardianship or conservatorship, the guardian or conservator is selected by the court.

Second, the power of attorney provides an easier process for your caregiver. For your caregiver appointed as agent under your power of attorney, using the authority granted may be as simple as showing a copy of the power of attorney to the appropriate person such as a bank administrator or a doctor. However, the process for establishing a guardianship or conservatorship requires a court case, notice to family members, the involvement of a doctor to establish the need for a guardianship or conservatorship and ongoing oversight from the probate court.

Finally, the costs involved with created power of attorney documents are almost always much lower. If you hire an attorney to prepare your power of attorney documents, there is a one-time cost of what you pay your attorney to create the power of attorney. Your agent may want to later consult an attorney, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Compare that to a guardianship and conservatorship with court costs, guardian ad litem fees, commissions paid to the guardian or conservator, and the ongoing cost of legal representation.

For incapacity planning, my minimum recommendation is to have a financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney. The financial power of attorney delegates authority to a selected person to carry out financial transactions. The healthcare power of attorney delegates authority to a selected person to make medical decisions.

If you need help with estate planning, please call me at (251) 215-9275 or write me on the contact page to discuss how I can help.