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What is needed for durable powers of attorney

Planning for the future is, for many, an important part of their adult life. Many Massachusetts residents may have a one-, five- or even ten-year plan that they used as a reference when making important decisions. However, some of these individuals may not have taken into account what will happen if they are incapacitated. Some might have already set up powers of attorney to step in if they should pass away unexpectedly, but it is possible that the person who has been given these responsibilities will be unable to step in unless the benefactor dies. 

In some states, if a person is determined to be incapacitated, then his or her power of attorney may not be able to make the decisions that he or she was entrusted to make under a standard agreement. Normally, the person who was assigned power of attorney may only be allowed to make financial decisions under specific circumstances. However, a durable power of attorney will allow this individual to act when the person who appointed him or her is incapacitated. 

Many people choose to break up the responsibilities between two people. One person may be given the power to make financial decisions on behalf of another. Depending on the complexity of the finances and this person’s knowledge, a professional may be brought in to help advise these decisions. Another person may be appointed to make decisions related to health care. The incapacitated individual may leave instructions or preferences regarding treatment for his or her health care power of attorney to follow or reference when making decisions. 

The people assigning their powers of attorney are not required to give these responsibilities to a lawyer. Power of attorney can be given to any trusted individual. However, seeking the advice of a local attorney can help Massachusetts residents to fully understand their estate plan and how their wishes will be carried out if they are incapacitated or pass away.

Source:, “Is Your Durable Power of Attorney Missing This?“, Nilus Mattive, March 12, 2018


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