hospital-roomThe DPA allows you to appoint people to assist with financial management of assets while you are still alive. It terminates at the moment of death. A DPA can be very broad or narrow in the actions that the appointee (attorney-in-fact) is authorized to take. The benefit to a DPA is that you, not a court, choose who can have access to your financial information. A DPA can allow the attorney-in-fact to have access to your assets even though you are fully capable of thinking and acting for yourself (for example, while away on vacation), or it can be written to only allow access if/when you start to fail mentally.

A DPA does not change the underlying ownership of the asset. It merely allows another to act as your fiduciary; to step into your shoes, and make decisions as your agent. If an asset is owned by you, and you alone, then at your death, the authority of the attorney-in-act terminates and the asset then goes through your will, unless there is a beneficiary designation attached to it.

Provide the DPA to your appointee(s), or advise him or her of your attorney’s name so that the document can be located if needed. If no one knows about it, and you fall ill and cannot communicate where the document is located, court action might still result.