What is Power of Attorney and Why You May Need One
All of us will one day become incapacitated due to injury, illness, or simply old age. It’s just the nature of life. That’s why there are legal instruments to help your loved ones take care of you when this happens. One of these is a power of attorney, which gives your loved ones the authority to make decisions on your behalf.
There are several types of power of attorney. This is why using an online template or generic form isn’t advisable. Gaining power of attorney can make you responsible for many things you do not expect, and if you’re signing away those powers you can lose a lot of autonomy. Thus, this decision should be made with great care and with the advice of a lawyer.
The primary types of power of attorney include:
- Power of Attorney for Health Care – this authorizes a trusted person to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. When one of these is in effect, the primary care physician should have a copy as well as any hospital the patient covered under the power of attorney is admitted to.
- Limited Power of Attorney – this gives a person the authority to act on behalf of someone else with limited powers or a time frame. This allows certain tasks to be managed and expires when the task is completed.
- Financial Power of Attorney – this grants the person authorized to have access to and management of the assets outlined in the power of attorney.
- Durable Power of Attorney – this grants the authority to manage all aspects of the person’s life, including assets, finances, and health care, where specified. It goes into effect when signed and expires with the death of the parent or other loved one.
- Springing Power of Attorney – This is a temporary form of power of attorney. It is granted when you become to speak for yourself due to a crisis. However, when the crisis has passed, the powers revert back to you.
There are certain things that a power of attorney cannot do. For example, someone with power of attorney cannot change their charge’s last will and testament. They are also prevented from making decisions on behalf of the beneficiary after their death unless they are also the administrator of the estate. A person holding power of attorney also cannot transfer the power of attorney to someone else without the consent of the beneficiary.
Deciding who should be responsible for making major decisions on your behalf through a power of attorney is a big step. Trust must play a huge role. You might want to avoid choosing someone who has had financial difficulties or may not have your best interests at heart. Discussing among family members about who is best suited to act as power of attorney is a good way to start. Making this decision before tragedy strikes will make it easier to deal with incapacitation or end-of-life issues. Note that you can give different people different powers. It’s not an all-or-nothing decision.
Peace of mind can be yours if you take your time in making a good decision in your power of attorney needs. Speak with your loved ones and a lawyer today about this important topic.