A thorough estate plan considers all kinds of potential future circumstances. From a last will that includes succession of inheritance in case an heir dies to limit how many revisions you must make, to adequate direction for medical issues you may experience, there are many circumstances that your estate plan should cover.

One of the most commonly overlooked is mental decline or incapacitation. Those who live well into their golden years may eventually experience reduced cognitive function. Some people may develop degenerative mental conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease. Others may struggle with dementia that causes difficulty navigating the world around them. In those circumstances, individuals need protections. Someone else will likely become their guardian, but that takes time.

After all, when you aren’t able to make a decision on your own behalf, you want to know that the right people make those decisions for you. Durable power of attorney is a special document that empowers someone else to make medical decisions or handle financial issues on your behalf.

What makes a durable power of attorney different?

A standard power of attorney document allows an individual to make certain decisions or take certain actions on your behalf. In the event that you are temporarily unable to handle your own finances or manage your medical care, the person you designate through your power of attorney can act on your behalf and in your best interests.

However, the authority of a power of attorney document usually ends when a person becomes legally incapable of making their own decisions. Dementia or long-term comas are good examples. Limited power of attorney documents may also only grant limited authority.

A durable power of attorney is specifically in place for someone who is incapacitated permanently or incapable of making their own decisions. It usually assigns legal, medical and financial authority to one person, although you can name multiple people as well.

It’s always best to plan for your medical future

No one hopes to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or any of the other serious cognitive effects of aging. In fact, you may do everything from taking supplements to doing quizzes to help keep your mind active.

However, conditions that leave you incapacitated or unable to make your own decisions are common enough that everyone should consider these serious medical issues when planning for their golden years and their estate. Creating a durable power of attorney is a simple way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your assets.

Failing to take the proper steps could leave your family vulnerable and scrambling to make decisions on your behalf. It could also lead to financial and legal complications in Gainesville when no one has authorization to manage issues for you.