New Mexico Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document granting another person the authority to act as an agent on your behalf. You may set up a power of attorney as a general power of attorney, granting an agent full power to act on your behalf or a limited power of attorney, conferring power on the agent only for a specific event or time. Powers of attorney are an important part of planning for your future care as they allow another individual of your choosing to manage your financial resources and make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
Powers of attorney are designed to terminate upon disability or incapacitation of the principal (person granting authority to an agent to act on his or her behalf) or after a certain event has taken place or time has passed. In order to avoid costly and time-consuming guardianship proceedings, a durable power of attorney may be established. A durable power of attorney allows an agent’s authority to make decisions on your behalf to continue if you become disabled or incapacitated.
If you are concerned about granting another person the power to act on your behalf while you are still able to make decisions for yourself, you may opt for your power of attorney to become effective only when you can no longer make decisions for yourself; this is called a springing power of attorney. This can become complicated with HIPAA laws that protect personal healthcare information, preventing your agent from receiving official proof that you are incapacitated (see What is HIPPA and How Does it affect Estate Plans? for more information). For this reason, it is important to clearly set forth the terms upon which an agent has the power to act on your behalf should you choose to create a springing power of attorney.
Since power of attorney grants complete control of your assets to another individual, it is important to choose an agent that you have full confidence in. Agents named in powers of attorney are legally obligated to act in the principal’s best interest and may be liable for mismanaging the principal’s property and assets. Keep in mind that you may revoke a power of attorney at any time before you become disabled or incapacitated.
Powers of attorney generally do not allow agents to make medical decisions on your behalf. For this authority, you must draft a power of attorney for health care—a separate document from the power of attorney that grants your agent the power to manage you financial affairs.
If you are considering a durable power of attorney, it is important to speak with one of our New Mexico estate planning attorneys. Our attorneys can help you carefully craft a durable power of attorney and/or durable power of attorney for health care with the meticulous preparation these documents require.
Contact one of our New Mexico estate planning attorneys to learn more about creating a durable power of attorney today. We proudly serve clients throughout the state of New Mexico, including Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, Roswell and Santa Fe!