What is a Power of Attorney and Why do I Need One?
By Timothy Matthews | December 18, 2020
What is a Power of Attorney?
Powers of Attorney are documents that allow you to name one or more people (called “attorneys”) who can make decisions on your behalf with respect to either your property or personal care.
Why do I need a Power of Attorney?
In the event that you become incapable of making decisions and do not have Powers of Attorney, there may not be any other way for someone else to make those decisions for you. Your loved ones or next of kin may have to apply to the Court for Guardianship, which can be costly and time consuming.
Having Powers of Attorney in place allows you to choose who would make those decisions and empowers them to make those decisions for you, and in a timely manner.
You may think that Powers of Attorney are only necessary if you’re elderly or ill. However, it’s important that you have properly prepared and executed Powers of Attorney in place as an adult, as it is possible to lose the capacity to execute these documents at any time— for example, through a serious accident or unexpected illness.
What is a Power of Attorney for Property?
A Power of Attorney for Property allows you to decide who can make decisions about your property in the event that you become incapable of making those decisions. These decisions can include paying your bills and managing or selling your assets.
The most common form of the Power of Attorney for Property is called a “Continuing Power of Attorney for Property”. This type of Power of Attorney continues to be effective if the person who granted the Power of Attorney (the grantor) becomes incapable of making decisions about their property.
A valid Continuing Power of Attorney will be effective as soon as it is signed; however, if the grantor is still capable of making decisions about their property, then the named attorney can only act on their behalf as instructed by the grantor. If the grantor becomes incapable of making certain decisions with respect to their property, then the named attorney can make those decisions on their own, on the grantor’s behalf.
The attorney is required to make decisions about the grantor’s property that are in the best interests of the grantor and is required to keep all receipts and records and account for everything they do.
What is a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?
A Power of Attorney for Personal Care allows you to decide who can make decisions about your personal care in the event that you become incapable of making those decisions. These decisions can include medical treatment, housing, nutrition, and hygiene.
A Power of Attorney for Personal Care only becomes effective if you are not capable of making personal care or medical decisions for yourself. The attorney is required to make decisions that are in the best interests of the grantor.
Who can I name as my Power of Attorney?
Most people choose the individuals they are closest with and trust the most, for example, their spouse, children, parents, or close friends. You can appoint one or more individuals, as well as alternative individuals who could act for you in the event that one or more of your named attorneys are not able to act or choose not to act as your attorney.
A lawyer can answer questions and give advice on the pros and cons of different choices and arrangements.
Since many people name their spouses as their attorneys, it is a good idea to review any existing Powers of Attorney and speak with a lawyer in the event of a subsequent separation.
Contact Henderson Family Law today if you are interested in learning more about having Powers of Attorney prepared.
This content is provided as a general informational source by Henderson Family Law, and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, or establish a lawyer-client relationship. Every situation is complex and fact-specific, and appropriate advice will vary accordingly. Do not rely on this information for legal decision-making under any circumstances. Please consult with us and obtain proper advice and strategy concerning the specifics of your particular situation.