Many readers of this Los Angeles estate planning blog may have heard the term “power of attorney,” but do not have a clear idea of what that term means. Maybe you know that it somehow gives someone else control over your affairs in case of an emergency but are not sure how to create a power of attorney that best expresses your wishes.
In this post, we will provide an overview of power of attorney documents to help readers decide if that is something they might need.
Basically, a power of attorney document grants another person legal authority to act on your behalf in the event you are no longer able to handle your affairs yourself. The person granted the authority is called the “attorney-in-fact.” You do not have to grant the attorney-in-fact authority in perpetuity. In fact, his or her power can expire after certain events or certain dates. Also, the attorney-in-fact’s powers are not unlimited; though he or she can make financial or health decisions for you, he or she cannot alter your will or represent you in court.
As implied above, there are two basic types of power of attorney documents. One is called an advance health care directive. In this document, you direct the attorney-in-fact about what medical decisions to make if you are incapacitated. This can include a do-not-resuscitate order.
The other type is financial power of attorney. The attorney-in-fact in this case handles your financial assets within limits dictated by the document.
Ideally, we will be able to stay in charge of our estates and medical care until the end of our lives. But misfortunes do occur and people may need to prepare themselves for those possibilities.
Source: The Star Press, “Power of attorney a useful tool,” Starr Manning, June 19, 2013