Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney (DPA or DPOA) allows your family member to appoint an agent to help with personal and financial management.

This is a less restrictive option than guardianship or conservatorship. It lets your family member keep control of certain parts of their care and finances when appropriate.

Benefits:

  • It's free (or fairly inexpensive)

  • It can be quick to set up

  • You don't have to involve the Court

To learn more about DPAs, click the button below:

The role of the appointed DPA agent is to help your family member in certain areas. Examples include:

Personal management:

  • Negotiate and sign an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Service Plan (ISP)

  • Apply for - and manage - services from state agencies

  • Hire attorneys and consultants if needed

  • Communicate with insurance companies

  • Apply for housing benefits

  • Sign a lease

  • Order utilities like gas, electricity, cable

  • Manage mail

Financial management:

  • Endorse and deposit checks

  • Open a bank account

  • Pay bills

  • Sign tax returns and other IRS paperwork

  • Use an investment account to manage assets

  • Buy or sell property, including real estate

  • Use the person's money to make gifts

  • Make sure that a change in assets doesn't affect benefits like SSI or MassHealth

  • Set up a trust for the person, and transfer their funds into it

Here's a good link on DPAs from the MA Guardianship Association with more info.

 

Sources: Fletcher Tilton Attorneys at Law (2011), Jackins (2010), MAGuardianship Association, Margolis & Bloom LLP

Here's what you can do:

  1. Talk with your family member, a lawyer, and other helpful people like a teacher or case manager. They can help you decide if a DPA is the right choice.

  2. Fill out the DPA form. Click the link at the bottom of the page to download a PDF of the form.(Optional) If it's a complicated case, you may consider hiring an attorney to help you write a customized DPA form. This may cost at least $500.

  3. Find a notary public. Have your family member sign the DPA form and get it notarized. (They will have to sign it in front of the notary public.)

A few notes about the DPA forms:

  • Some banks and insurance companies have their own forms that they want you to use. To avoid problems, ask all the institutions you will be dealing with if they will honor your DPA. If not, ask for their forms and use them.

  • A DPA should stay in effect indefinitely. But sometimes institutions don't want to accept one that was signed years ago. If this happens, you may need to:

    • Fill out a form stating that the DPA is still in effect, OR

    • Sign a new copy of the existing DPA with a current date.

 

Sources:  Fletcher Tilton Attorneys at Law, Jackins (2010), MA Guardianship Association, Margolis & Bloom LLP

 

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