Why You Need a Power of Attorney

Having a power of attorney is critical should the time come when you can’t make health and financial decisions on your own.

A young woman helps an older woman with her paperwork.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's not pleasant to think about, but someday you may be unable to make decisions for yourself. Designating a power of attorney will protect your interests.

A durable power of attorney gives someone you designate, known as your agent, the authority to make decisions if you become incapacitated. An agent who has durable power for health care, sometimes known as a health care proxy, can make decisions about your medical and end-of-life treatment. An individual who has durable power of attorney for finances has the authority to handle your financial matters, such as paying bills and managing your property. You can give the same individual both medical and financial power of attorney or name separate agents, based on their expertise. 

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To continue reading this article
please register for free

This is different from signing in to your print subscription

Why am I seeing this? Find out more here

Ella Vincent
Staff Writer

Ella Vincent is a personal finance writer who has written about credit, retirement, and employment issues. She has previously written for Motley Fool and Yahoo Finance. She enjoys going to concerts in her native Chicago and watching basketball.