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What decisions does a durable power of attorney cover?

One of the most common parts of estate planning involves signing a durable power of attorney form that gives an agent the authority to make certain decisions on your behalf. In Washington, the law allows your agent to make a variety of medical and financial choices if you are unable to communicate those decisions yourself.

FindLaw states that you must create a durable power of attorney arrangement in writing for it to be a legally binding document. Your designated agent has the authority to act on your behalf until you revoke or terminate the power of attorney. In some cases, a court or a court-appointed guardian may also end the power of attorney arrangement.

There are several different decisions your agent may make if circumstances do not allow you to act on your own behalf. In many cases, agents make choices about medical treatments and other health care issues. For example, your agent may give your doctor approval to end life-sustaining measures, especially if that decision corresponds with your preferences outlined in a living will. An agent may also handle health care decisions for your minor children if necessary.

Your agent may need to take care of your finances if an injury or illness incapacitates you. The power of attorney form may allow your agent to sign checks, sell property, invest money or manage your business. He or she may even file a lawsuit on your behalf. Signing a durable power of attorney allows you to give a trusted friend or relative the resources and authority to act in your name.

This information on power of attorney laws is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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