A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a vital legal document that allows you to appoint a trusted person to manage your financial and medical affairs in case you become incapacitated. Heritage Law Office, an experienced estate planning law firm in Wisconsin, is dedicated to helping clients make informed decisions when creating their DPOA. Contact us either online or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation today.
What Is a Durable Power of Attorney and Why Is It Important in Racine, WI?
A durable power of attorney is a legal document that grants authority to a designated person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. This may include managing your finances, making healthcare decisions, or handling other personal matters.
Types of Durable Power of Attorney in Wisconsin
There are two primary types of DPOAs in Wisconsin:
Financial Durable Power of Attorney: This type grants your agent the authority to manage your financial affairs, such as paying bills, managing investments, and handling real estate transactions.
Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney: This type allows your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you're unable to communicate your wishes.
How to Create a Durable Power of Attorney in Racine, WI
To establish a durable power of attorney in Wisconsin, follow these steps:
Choose an agent: Select a trusted individual who will act in your best interests and manage your affairs if you become incapacitated.
Consult with an experienced attorney: Work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to ensure that your DPOA meets all legal requirements and accurately reflects your intentions.
Execute the document: Sign the DPOA in the presence of a notary public and two witnesses who are not named as agents in the document.
File the document: While not legally required, it's a good idea to file your DPOA with the Register of Deeds office in Racine County to ensure easy access in case of emergency.
Inform relevant parties: Notify your chosen agent, healthcare providers, and financial institutions of your DPOA to ensure a smooth transition if it becomes necessary.
Revoking a Durable Power of Attorney in Wisconsin
You have the right to revoke a durable power of attorney at any time, as long as you are mentally competent. To revoke a DPOA, follow these steps:
Notify your agent: Inform your agent in writing that you are revoking their authority.
Execute a revocation document: Work with an experienced attorney to create a formal revocation document.
Distribute copies: Provide copies of the revocation to relevant parties, including your former agent, healthcare providers, and financial institutions.
Update your estate plan: Consult with an attorney to update your estate plan and create a new DPOA if necessary.
Understanding the Responsibilities of an Agent in a Durable Power of Attorney in Racine, WI
When you appoint an agent through a durable power of attorney, they take on significant responsibilities. It's essential to choose a trustworthy and capable person who will diligently act in your best interests. Here are some common duties of an agent:
Financial Agent Duties
Managing bank accounts: The agent may be responsible for depositing and withdrawing funds, balancing accounts, and monitoring transactions.
Handling investments: This includes managing stocks, bonds, and other investment accounts, making informed decisions to protect your assets.
Paying bills and taxes: The agent should ensure that your bills and taxes are paid on time to avoid penalties or legal issues.
Managing real estate: If you own property, the agent may be responsible for maintaining it, collecting rent, and managing leases or sales.
Applying for government benefits: The agent can apply for benefits on your behalf, such as Social Security or Medicare.
Healthcare Agent Duties
Making medical decisions: The agent will make healthcare decisions based on your expressed wishes or, if unknown, in your best interests.
Accessing medical records: The agent has the right to access your medical records and communicate with healthcare providers.
Consenting to or refusing treatment: The agent can consent to or refuse medical treatments or procedures on your behalf.
Selecting healthcare providers: The agent may choose your healthcare providers and facilities, ensuring that they align with your preferences and values.
- End-of-life decisions: The agent may be responsible for making decisions regarding palliative care, hospice, organ donation, and other end-of-life matters.
Why Work with an Estate Planning Attorney in Racine, WI
Creating a durable power of attorney is a crucial aspect of comprehensive estate planning. Working with an experienced attorney ensures that your DPOA is legally valid and aligns with your wishes. An attorney can also guide you through the process of selecting an agent, drafting the DPOA, and revoking it if necessary.
At Heritage Law Office, we understand the importance of protecting your interests and ensuring that your loved ones are cared for in the event of incapacity. Contact our experienced estate planning attorneys by using the online form or calling us directly at 414-253-8500 to discuss your durable power of attorney needs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a legal document that assigns a specific person the authority to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapable of doing so yourself. These decisions can relate to financial matters, healthcare decisions, or other personal matters depending on the type of DPOA.
2. What are the different types of Durable Power of Attorney in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, there are two primary types of DPOAs: the Financial Durable Power of Attorney and the Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney. The Financial DPOA authorizes your chosen agent to handle your financial matters, while the Healthcare DPOA gives them the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.
3. How can I create a Durable Power of Attorney in Racine, WI?
To establish a DPOA in Wisconsin, you should first select a trusted individual as your agent. You should then consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure your DPOA meets all legal requirements. Once the document is prepared, it must be signed in the presence of a notary public and two witnesses. Although not required, it is recommended to file your DPOA with the Register of Deeds office for easy access in case of emergency.
4. Can I revoke a Durable Power of Attorney?
Yes, you have the right to revoke a DPOA at any time as long as you are mentally competent. You must inform your agent in writing that you're revoking their authority, execute a revocation document with an attorney's help, distribute copies to relevant parties, and consult with an attorney to update your estate plan if necessary.
5. What are the responsibilities of an agent in a Durable Power of Attorney?
When appointed as an agent in a DPOA, the individual takes on considerable responsibilities. For a Financial DPOA, these might include managing bank accounts, handling investments, paying bills and taxes, managing real estate, and applying for government benefits. For a Healthcare DPOA, responsibilities could include making medical decisions, accessing medical records, consenting to or refusing treatment, selecting healthcare providers, and making end-of-life decisions. The agent should always act in your best interests.