Did you know there are different types of Powers of Attorney? If you would like your appointed person to maintain Power of Attorney if you become incapacitated, consider signing a Durable Power of Attorney.
Drafting a Power of Attorney can be complex and even emotional. It is never easy to imagine yourself unable to make decisions about your health, your estate, or your finances. However, granting someone Power of Attorney can ensure that you are leaving your important affairs in the hands of someone you know and trust.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a document that gives another person, or sometimes an organization, the right to manage your affairs should you be unable or unwilling to do so. This can be a hard thing to think about for many people, as it is hard to grasp no longer being able to manage your finances or medical decisions.
However, taking this step is crucial so you can give someone you trust the power to make these important decisions when the time comes. After you sign a Power of Attorney, the assigned person becomes your Agent.
Once you have determined to whom you want to grant Power of Attorney, it is then important to understand what type of Power of Attorney document you need to prepare.
Types of Powers of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney allows you to give someone else the power to act on your behalf, whether moving your finances around, dealing with life insurance, settling your claims, or hiring caretakers. This is a broad assignment that may include all of these areas and can apply whether you will be out of the country or if you become mentally incapacitated and can no longer make decisions about your affairs.
The key difference between a General Power of Attorney and a Limited Power of Attorney is that General can apply to a wide range of affairs, while Limited refers to one event or a set of actions that need to be taken on your behalf.
For example, if you are about to close on a real estate investment and have to go out of the country, you can grant a friend or family member Limited Power of Attorney to finalize the sale on your behalf when you are unable to be present. Limited Powers of Attorney often have expiration dates to determine when the person or organization would no longer have the right to make these decisions or sign on your behalf.
Assigning a Durable Power of Attorney is a smart step to take. This means that the document will still be in effect if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. Without the “Durable” designation, the Power of Attorney you have assigned to manage your affairs could be terminated if you were to become incapacitated. You can also set up the Durable Power of Attorney to go into effect only after you have become incapacitated.
There are two different types of durable powers of attorney. One applies to your finances, allowing your Agent to make decisions about your investments and property once you’re incapacitated. The other applies to health care, giving the Agent the right to make hard decisions about what to do if you are not able to make your own medical decisions.
This is why you may need to prepare a Durable Power of Attorney for both your finances and your health care.
Springing power of attorney
A springing power of attorney differs from durable in that the person who is assigned as the Agent does not have any authority to make decisions until you become incapacitated.
A triggering event must occur in order for the Agent to gain legal authority under the Springing Power of Attorney, which can vary, but conditions must be made very clear in the document. Otherwise, a court will have to determine if the conditions for incompetency have been met. Often, a doctor must be consulted for confirmation.
What is an advanced health care directive?
Preparing a Durable Power of Attorney is a smart step in your estate planning process, as is creating a living will or an advanced health care directive. This document outlines your exact wishes for your medical care, and it must be followed by doctors and family members if you are no longer able to make decisions.
The Medical Power of Attorney is a form of an advanced health care directive, which enables you to think through and document what your wishes are while assigning someone to make decisions for you.
To discuss your options for preparing a Durable Power of Attorney and creating a Last Will and Testament or a Living Will, contact us at Elder Law Department at Goldberg Law Group today. We provide estate planning and elder law services and help our clients create a comprehensive plan that works for them and their families. We can also talk with you about the benefits of creating a trust to better protect your assets and ensure they pass to your family members according to your wishes.