I am often asked by my clients, "if I have a trust that is going to allow for the management of all my property, why do I still need a durable power of attorney?" The durable power of attorney, in addition to allowing your agent to manage your non-trust property, also allows the agent to act on your behalf in many different scenarios where the powers of the trustee do not apply:
- Filing tax returns and otherwise dealing with the Internal Revenue Service,
- Applying for public benefits, and filing appeals on your behalf if those benefits are denied,
- Inquiring about, managing, changing and cashing out life insurance policies that aren't owned by your trust,
- Signing admission agreements on your behalf to a hospital, rehab facility or nursing home,
- Resigning on your behalf if you are serving as executor, guardian or conservator of someone and become unable to fulfill your duties,
- Obtaining information from pension company or human resources department,
- Hiring caregivers and other professionals on your behalf,
- Accessing safe deposit boxes,
- Changing your domicile (the place that is legally considered your home,)
- Filing for bankruptcy on your behalf,
- Acting on your behalf in probate proceedings, including assenting to accounts or other proceedings,
- Filing a change of address with the post office.
As you can see, the durable power of attorney covers much more than just the management of your property. It is an essential part of any estate plan, whether or not you have a trust.
Estate Planning, Probate and Trusts involve complex areas of law. Individual circumstances must be considered before any advice can be given. The general information above is not to be construed as legal advice, which can only be given after consideration of the unique facts of each matter. Please seek the advice or counsel of your attorney, financial advisor or CPA as it may be appropriate.