You Executed a Power of Attorney Document – Now What?

Estate Planning

Natalie Black | April 21, 2020

Have you recently executed a Power of Attorney document giving a trusted family member or friend the power to make decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself? Are you wondering what you should do with that Power of Attorney document?

Designating agents to act on your behalf

There may be a time in your life when you may need someone to help you make decisions when you cannot make them for yourself. As a part of our estate planning services, we always recommend executing a Power of Attorney document in which you designate an agent to make decisions on your behalf. We recommend nominating an agent for both your medical decisions and your financial decisions.

You may have a “General Durable Power of Attorney” which covers both financial and medical decisions, or you may have a separate “Health Care Power of Attorney” and “Financial Power of Attorney.”

You’ve executed the document(s) – now what?

After you’ve done the hard work of identifying your agent and executing the power of attorney documents, you may be wondering what you should do with these documents.

You should keep your power of attorney document(s) easily accessible with your important papers at home, and let a family member or trusted friend know you have executed a power of attorney.

You should consider giving copies to your designated agent(s). Your agent will need a copy of the power of attorney document to act on your behalf.

We recommend giving a copy of your “General Durable Power of Attorney” or “Health Care Power of Attorney” to your doctors to keep in your file. You may also be able to upload your “Health Care Power of Attorney” to Montana’s end-of-life registry which makes your documents accessible by health care providers all across the state.

We also recommend giving a copy of your “General Durable Power of Attorney” or “Financial Power of Attorney” to your bank and financial advisor to keep in your file.

Talk to your doctor about your executed Health Care Power of Attorney

Many doctors are now taking the initiative to discuss powers of attorney with their patients. Your doctor may ask you if you have power of attorney (sometimes also referred to as an advanced directive), or if you have designated an agent to help you with medical decisions. If you have executed estate planning documents with our office, you probably do have a Health Care Power of Attorney or General Durable Power of Attorney and you should bring it to your next doctor’s appointment!

If you say no or are uncertain, your doctor may offer you another power of attorney form to execute. If this happens, the new document you execute may replace the power of attorney document you have already executed and make it ineffective. If you have any questions, you should talk to your attorney before executing a new document.

Contact our estate planning attorneys to learn more about power of attorney documents and what you should do with the documents after they are executed.

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