What Exactly Is a Power of Attorney?

Powers of Attorney can keep your family out of the courtroom.  Every adult should have a Financial or Property Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney in place.  These documents enable you to decide who will make decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so.  Remember that once a person is 18 years of age, he or she is an adult in the eyes of the law.  People have the common misconception that a spouse or parent automatically will be the decision maker in the event a person is unable to act for himself or herself.  That is not the case, but you can eliminate the need for court intervention by including these vital documents in your Estate Plan.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Property permits you (the “principal”) to appoint a person to act as your agent, or “attorney in fact” to make financial and property decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. There are compelling reasons to have this document in place.   It permits you – not a Court – to decide who will “write the checks” if you cannot do so.    Often, it is not necessary for a guardian to be appointed for a person who has become temporarily or permanently disabled when they have planned ahead and have a power of attorney for property in place.   You may save your loved ones time, energy, and money by planning ahead for the possibility that you may need someone else to make financial decisions for you at some time during your lifetime.  Why not decide for yourself who it will be?

A Health Care Power of Attorney designates someone you have chosen to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. You do not have to be terminally ill or in a coma for your agent to act for you. Simply stated, if you cannot speak for yourself, your agent can speak for you.  In exercising the decision-making authority, your agent is required to consider your specific instructions regarding the care that you want provided or withheld. You may give your agent broad discretion or limit the agent’s power.  In order to ensure that your desires and the decisions for your health care are made by the person you trust, you must have a Health Care Power of Attorney in place.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney to Prepare My Powers of Attorney?

An Estate Planning Attorney is the right choice for all of your Estate Planning documents.  A Durable Power of Attorney for Property allows you to designate a trusted person to manage your finances if you are unable to do so. You may grant your agent very broad powers to act for you, or you may restrict the agent’s powers.  For example, you may not want your agent to borrow money, or you may wish to place restrictions or rules on this power.  You may grant your agent additional powers that are not listed in the statutory form.  For example, you may wish to authorize your agent to make gifts to your loved ones.   It all depends upon your wishes.  You may also designate your agent as the person you would choose to act as the guardian of your estate in the event that one was required.   Your attorney can make sure that your Property Power includes the powers you wish to grant and limits those you may wish to limit.  Additionally, there are requirements for signing and witnessing.  If these requirements are not observed, your Property Power may not be honored.

Your Health Care Power allows you to include rules about care you would or would not wish to have.  An experienced attorney can answer questions you may have about the language of the document and can modify it appropriately to reflect your wishes.

When you are ready to plan for your future and find peace of mind that your wishes will be honored because your documents are enforceable, let us help you make that happen.