The durable power of attorney is an extremely valuable estate plan document. It allows one person to designate an agent to conduct all financial affairs. These documents are typically durable meaning that the power continues through the disability of the principal (the person naming an agent). Alternatively, there can be springing powers of attorney, which only come into effect when the principal is incapacitated. Springing powers of attorney can be attractive in many ways since the principal’s assets remain untouchable while they can still be used and enjoyed by the principal. But many financial institutions will not honor a springing power of attorney. The apparent rationale goes like this: “You didn’t trust him while you were able to watch over your own affairs. Why should we trust him now?”
The durable power of attorney is clearly susceptible to abuse. When another can act with full authority on your behalf, it is entirely possible that the power will be used to make self-interested transactions or even unauthorized gifts to the agent.
But if a trustworthy agent can be found, the power of attorney can save countless hours of worry, avoid dissipation of an estate (what would happen if no one paid your heating bill over the winter?) and, most importantly, avoid the need for probate court orders to handle your affairs. The durable power of attorney is worth the modest fee charged by most attorneys but, for what it is worth, here is a blank durable power of attorney form for free.
You should understand that a free form is not a substitute for an attorneys advice. Moreover, a typical form will not allow some of the more nuanced maneuvers that are necessary for accelerated Medicaid qualification. Also, you should understand that estate recovery avoidance techniques will typically require some form of planning for after one’s death.
Nonetheless, this form will work to appoint someone to pay your electric bill when you are not able to and that is certainly worth something. You should read the warnings very carefully on the linked page and understand that reading a blog and printing out a form is no sense a substitute for consulting with an attorney. Moreover, please understand that I have posted this link to be helpful. You and I are not entering into an attorney-client relationship at this time. See the disclaimer below.