When and why do I need Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person the right to act on behalf of another.
It can be either durable or non-durable. Durable power of attorney is the most common type and it lasts until the person who granted it dies or becomes incapacitated. Non-durable power of attorney is temporary and only lasts for a specific task like paying bills or managing property.
A power of attorney will be needed in a relationship when one person needs to make decisions for the other person if they become incapacitated. It is also used when parents have an illness that may lead to their death in the future and they need someone else to make decisions for them regarding their healthcare and finances.
What is a Power of Attorney document?
A power of attorney is a legal document that a person (the “principal”) uses to give another person (the “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) the authority to make decisions on the principal’s behalf. The agent’s actions under a power of attorney are as binding as if the principal made them.
If you want someone to make financial decisions for you while you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make them yourself, you will need to create a financial power of attorney.
In California, you usually can delegate the authority to make financial and property decisions in the same document, but the authority to make healthcare decisions must be in a different document called a power of attorney for health care (also called a healthcare directive and living will).
Limited Power of Attorney
A special or limited power of attorney grants limited authority to an agent. For example, a common limited power of attorney is the power of attorney for childcare. This document allows you to give another adult the authority to temporarily care for your child if you need to be out of town for a significant time.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
This power of attorney allows your agent to manage your finances and personal affairs, including managing property, paying bills, handling tax matters, and providing meals. It is durable because it remains effective when you become incapacitated. If you do not use language stating that the power of attorney will not be affected by your incapacity, it will not be a nondurable or general power of attorney and will cease being effective on the date you are incapacitated.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney does not take effect until a specific event occurs. The most common event that people choose is incapacity because they do not want their agent to have power unless they cannot make decisions for themselves. However, you must wait for a physician to declare you incapacitated before your agent can take any actions, which can cause delays that may be life threatening if you are so ill that decisions need to be made quickly.
With a Healthcare power of attorney, your healthcare agent will have the authority to make life and death decisions for you according to your wishes. Make sure that the person you pick is willing to be your agent.
When you ask someone to be your healthcare agent, you should think about several things. Once you complete the form A Power of Attorney for My Health Care, it is important to have a serious conversation about end-of-life care with your agent if you were to become seriously ill.
It is very important to get legal advice when creating these documents to avoid certain pitfalls that will invalidate the documents. C4 Legal Assistance can provide expert help to make sure that your documents are set up correctly and file them with the court if necessary. Call (805) 585-3828 for your FREE CONSULTATION today!