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  • Russell Hayes

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney is a document granting another person power over your legal and financial affairs. While some people may hesitate in granting someone such control over their affairs, it is important to keep in mind that your power of attorney must act in your best interest at all times. That is, they act on your behalf as your “fiduciary.”

There are two types of powers of attorney: immediate, and springing. An immediate power takes effect immediately, while a springing power does not take effect until two physicians have stated that you are incapacitated or disabled.

As specified in Tennessee Code Annotated 34-6-103, any act done by your power of attorney has the same effect as if it were done by you. Powers granted by a power of attorney can be wide, and are specified in Tenn. Code Ann. 34-6-109. They include such things as buying, selling, and investing property, managing retirement and government benefits, handling insurance matters, accessing bank accounts, and dealing with pets and mail.

A durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney are important to have for many reasons, not least among them the fact that they can help avoid future litigation in having to appoint a conservator. Conservatorship proceedings may be expensive, protracted, and stressful, and in most cases, having powers of attorney in place will save time and money in negating the need to have a conservator appointed. It is also important to distinguish a power of attorney from a conservatorship. In a conservatorship, you no longer have authority over your own affairs. By contrast, with a power of attorney, you retain all your rights, and can revoke or amend the power of attorney even after signing it.

Powers of attorney are part of a wider estate plan, which may include a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and Revocable or Irrevocable (Asset Protection) Trusts. It is essential that everyone have a plan, both for their financial affairs in this life and thereafter. I encourage you to contact The Pickler Law Firm to set up a free consultation with an attorney who can help get your affairs in order.

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