For expat end of life planning, having a power of attorney is essential

Sep 15, 2020 | 2 comments

By Miriam Drake

As an expat, do you need a power of attorney in Cuenca? Absolutely!

Actually, I recommend you have three powers of attorney: one for healthcare and two others in which you authorize at least two friends to utilize when you are unable to care for yourself. If the people you select to be your power of attorney travel a lot, you might even need more. Additionally, it is advisable for you to draw up a power of attorney document in the country of your former residence if you haven’t already done so. There may be a time in the future when you will also need to have things done for you in your homeland. It’s good to have coverage in both locales.

In Ecuador, and most other Latin American countries, the power of attorney is usually referred to simply as a “Poder”, meaning “to power”.

An Ecuadorian attorney will help you draw up a Poder that meets your needs and is suitable and legal for use in Ecuador. Usually, the lawyer will provide you with a notarized original in Spanish and an English translation. The person you select to be your power of attorney is someone you trust to help you make vital decisions, advocate for you, confer with your registered nurse, recruit and organize volunteers, pay your bills, and generally get things done for you while you are not functioning, and hopefully you are recovering! This person will become your right hand when the going gets tough. And it could get tough.  I hope it doesn’t.

Not all attorneys are created equal in Ecuador or anywhere else in the world. Do your research before making your selection. Check reputations, fees, services offered, and ethics. Ask others, both Cuencanos and expats for their recommendations. Take the time necessary to do your investigation. Better safe than sorry as they say. For professional services, I always go with personal recommendations. A word of caution: just because a lawyer can speak English, doesn’t mean he or she will have your best interests at heart. I strongly recommend that you always have a translator with you, even if the attorney is bilingual. I have a Cuencana lawyer I trust. If you want her name and email address, I would be happy to share those with you.

There are many ways to craft a Poder depending on your circumstances. Some expats opt for a general form of Poder, giving full access and authority to their designees. Others prefer a Poder that is specific in nature and limits access to certain things, such as bank account withdrawals up to a certain dollar amount within a specified timeframe. For instance, you could give bank account access limited to up to $5,000 per month to pay for all expenses. Major healthcare crises can cost money. Be prepared to have someone pay for these and other bills.

Find out what your chosen attorney recommends. Some lawyers will give you new ideas as to what to include, others will use templates. Some lawyers will include notarization and document translation as part of their service, others will not. Shop around. Ask questions. Even if your lawyer is bilingual, bring a translator. Although mine is bilingual, I always brought a translator with me so that I was certain that the communication with the lawyer was clear, and I understood her. Again, just because someone speaks English doesn’t mean they are the attorney for you!

Miriam Drake, M.Ed., L.M.H.C., N.C.C. has experience working in health care administration, and now is a psychotherapist in private practice serving adults via electronic media internationally.  Place your order for your copy of the revised 2020 edition of “Expat Medical Emergency Preparation Manual” by writing Miriam at:


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