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What’s the deal with having two power of attorney documents?

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Why can’t I just have one document that makes someone my power of attorney for everything? Well, technically you could do that.  However, there are some clear reasons why that is not common practice and why we don’t advise taking that approach.

            The first consideration is cost.  A very practical reason not to combine your General Durable Power of Attorney and your Healthcare Power of Attorney in the same document is that it would double your recording costs.  That is because although the Healthcare Power of Attorney does not need to be recorded at the Register of Deeds, the General Durable Power of Attorney is recorded.  When a document is recorded you typically have a charge based on the length of the document, so the inclusion of all of the necessary pages in a Healthcare Power of Attorney would add to the total recording fees you had to pay.  No one likes paying extra fees and so we don’t advise you to create a document that would result in unnecessary expense for you at the Register of Deeds.

A second major concern is efficiency.  You may be thinking, hold on, wouldn’t the efficient approach be having only one document?  However, the reality is that combining medical and financial information into one document would tend to make things harder on the agent that was granted those powers and on the institutions relying on those documents to allow your agent to act on your behalf.  Banks can be very picky about how they handle powers of attorney.  The inclusion of paperwork that is unnecessary for the financial institution is just asking for the possibility of a slow down in using your document.

Additionally, your Healthcare Power of Attorney could include very personal decisions and details about your medical situation that your financial institution does not need to know about.  Likewise, your healthcare provider does not need to have to sift through details and decisions related to your finances before verifying that someone can make a medical decision on your behalf.

Finally, the only thing worse than attempting to combine both powers of attorney into one document is having no power of attorney in place at all.  These documents can make a massive difference in a crisis situation, as they allow someone to act on your behalf efficiently and also in ways to reduce further costs on you.  Important medical decisions can be made quickly and actions can be taken regarding bills and expenses in order to avoid racking up late fees or liens on your property.  

If you don’t have the protections of a General Durable Power of Attorney or a Healthcare Power of Attorney in place, one of the attorneys in our offices would be happy to discuss these with you and see what best fits your needs.


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Jake Edwards, Attorney

Jake Edwards

Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney

mcelderlaw.com

Hendersonville Office

136 S. King St. Hendersonville, NC 28792

828-233-5991

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