Someone you know and love has designated you as their Power of Attorney. What does that mean? A Power of Attorney can be tasked with a variety of duties should they need to act on behalf of the person who's placed them in that role. Here's a few answers to some questions you may have about a power of attorney:
Question #1: Can anyone sign a power of attorney?
Answer: A Power of Attorney is a legal document. Therefore, the person signing it needs to be an adult and have mental competency to sign. If a mentally incapacitated person lacks capacity to sign legal documents, he/she will not be able to sign a power of attorney. That's why we urge families to act sooner rather than latter to get this in place. The alternative course of action is a guardianship process through the court.
Question #2: Do I have to see a lawyer to get a power of attorney?
Answer: We advise you to seek out an attorney who can listen to your needs and understand your circumstances so that you can ensure a power of attorney covers all the aspects involving your healthcare and financial decisions. Yes, you might be able to find a quick form on the internet, but those standardized forms won't always be specific to the state statutes that apply and may be too vague. Should the time come when you need to depend on that document, you don't want to wait until you need it to find that it doesn't work properly for your situation.
Question #3: Can my Power of Attorney do whatever they like with my money or my healthcare?
Answer: Someone designated to handle your financial affairs has a legal obligation to act in your best interest. Just because they can act on your behalf doesn't mean they have the right to be irrational with your finances. Although there may be some hesitation to get a Financial Power of Attorney, be sure that you are choosing someone you trust and who has a track record of making sound decisions. Communicating to your person of choice what your wishes and ideals are is a good thing to do as well. That way they will know how you feel about certain things.
Additionally, someone designated to make healthcare choices for you when you are not able will have the oversight of doctors and physicians who are familiar with your care. These professionals will provide guidance to your designee so that they can make choices for you that are reasonable. Again, choosing someone who you trust is important, and it is a good idea to make time to discuss with them your wishes.
Question #4: Can my Power of Attorney still manage things for me after my death?
Answer: No. A power of attorney is no longer effective once you pass away. Those powers are only good for your lifetime. While it may seem logical that a Financial Power of Attorney should allow someone to handle your Estate after you pass away, that role is reserved for the named Executor or Personal Representative. We advise not only having your powers of attorney in place, but also a Last Will and Testament.
Legal documents such as powers of attorney can be crucial in a variety of scenarios. Should you fall ill or be in the hospital, you may be able to make your own healthcare decisions, but you may need someone to manage your personal finances. Should you need someone to help take care of you as you age, a power of attorney can help them do so with less hassle and worry. Let us help you get these documents in place! We will learn about you and your family, listen to your goals and wishes, and work together to protect you and your family. Give us a call at 260-969-1177 or email [email protected]