The Durable Power of Attorney is a lifesaving document for many people. It allows you to choose a trusted person who will make financial decisions for you if you are physically or mentally unable to make decisions on your own. This document makes all the difference because it ensures that a trusted friend or relative is standing by to pay your bills and deal with your financial issues in times of emergency.
The most common use of the Durable Power of Attorney occurs when an adult child uses the power to provide extra care and support to an aging or ill parent. For example, an adult child can use the power to be added as a signatory to a parent’s checking account, which authorizes the child to sign checks to pay the ongoing bills of the parent. Just a few of the many additional uses of the Durable Power of Attorney include: using it to sell real estate; buy and sell investment assets; file income tax returns; and work with insurance companies to obtain benefits.
Sometimes, the most important use of the power is simply being able to obtain information about a parent. With current concerns about privacy and keeping information out of the wrong hands, it can be difficult – if not impossible – to find out if a parent has an account, an insurance contract, a pension with a former employer, a long term care policy, a life insurance policy, a U.S. Savings Bond, a stock certificate, or other type of financial document. Without the Durable Power of Attorney, many institutions will simply refuse to provide even basic information about the existence of an account, much less allow access to it.
The power can be extremely helpful in these situations because most institutions will accept it as valid proof that an adult child has been given permission by a parent to access financial information. When they see the Durable Power of Attorney, those institutions will often let you know at least what they are holding and whether or not they will release it.
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