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Defending Your Relationship

By James Wood

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to dictate who you would like to make decisions on your behalf. While there are many useful purposes for a power of attorney, they are especially important to unmarried couples, which live together, when a partner becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions. In such situations, the law usually designates the incapacitated person's next of kin as the decision maker. With a power of attorney, unmarried couples can give their partners the power to make such decisions.

Powers of attorney can be as general or specific as you decide. You can give your partner the power to make decisions on your behalf at any time or only when you become incapacitated. You can also dictate what types of decisions you are authorizing your agent to make. A health care power of attorney (also referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care, medical power of attorney, health care proxy and appointment of health care agent of surrogate) would authorize your partner (or other agent) to make decisions about your medical treatment and dictate who you would like to be able to visit you while receiving medical treatment.

By executing a power of attorney for finances (also referred to as a durable power of attorney for finances) you could dictate whom you want to make decisions about your legal and financial matters. You can be very specific about what actions you are authorizing your partner (or other agent) to make, including which accounts he or she has access to and the types of decisions he or she can make.


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