What Is a Power of Attorney?

Estate Planning Lawyer

When trying to get a handle on the estate planning process, you will need to have an idea of what documents apply to your situation. There are quite a few different documents that an estate planning lawyer may recommend you have at the ready for purposes of taking care of your property, debt and your welfare when appropriate. A power of attorney is a document that triggers while you are alive but incapacitated. It can mean different things depending on how it is applied. Take a look at the three types of power of attorney you may want to consider drafting.

Limited Power of Attorney

When you are unable to perform a duty, like a contract signing, due to an absence, you may want to appoint someone to sign on your behalf. In order to make it a legally binding contract, the person you name has to have power of attorney. A limited power of attorney is the best way to appoint a person to carry out a specific action when you cannot (often due to a temporary medical condition like surgery or illness). Once the action is carried out, the power of attorney document becomes inactive. A limited power of attorney can also be used when you go on vacation and want to leave someone in charge of signing documents while you are away.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is often recommended in the event you are mentally incapacitated. It grants someone the authority to make medical or financial decisions on your behalf. Having this document gives you the option of choosing in advance who you want to be in charge of your continuing care until you either regain your facilities or pass away, triggering your estate plan. Not having this document may force someone you don’t want making these decisions be put in charge. You may appoint one person for medical decisions and one for financial decisions or one person can perform both. Either way, these should be two separate documents.

General Power of Attorney

You may opt to have a general power of attorney, which gives a person control over all your business and personal matters if you are unavailable due to vacation or illness. This may include financial, medical and personal matters. You may revoke a general power of attorney upon your full return. You must be of sound mind and body to make any changes to a power of attorney.

When meeting with an attorney about your estate plan, be sure you ask about drafting relevant power of attorney documents. These may help you, and your loved ones out in tough times.

Source: Folsom Estate Planning Lawyer, Yee Law Group

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