You should update your durable power of attorney at least every 10 years, if not sooner.  Why?

  • The laws change over time;
  • Banks and other financial institutions may decline an older document;
  • The people you name may change, particularly with a couple that names each other;
  • Legal trends change where you may want to have expanded powers to protect your assets; 
  • and more!

What about a married couple getting older?

One matter to concern ourselves is with a husband and wife. A husband and wife typically name each other as their attorney-in-fact and/or health care surrogate with a child/children as alternate. As the spouses get older, they may diminish in their capacity. If this is the case, they should likely not be each other's agents as they likely cannot act to help each other. Here, the husband and wife would likely want to bypass each other as agent and go directly to a child as their helper.  As an example:

Mom and Dad are both 92 and are both failing mentally and physically. Their older estate planning documents only name each other as power of attorney. If Mom fell and went to the nursing home, who could act for Mom?  Only Dad!  But Dad has capacity issues himself and may not be able to take charge in this difficult situation. So it is likely Mom and Dad would have wanted to update their powers of attorney and advance directives at this time.

If you want to learn more about estate planning, please review the following:

D. Rep DeLoach III
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Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney