Powers of Attorney

Information

A document that speaks for you when you can't speak for yourself.

Caution
This is a very powerful tool and important decision. Very carefully choose your agent, the person who will act on your behalf.
 

A POWER OF ATTORNEY IS...

  • Sometimes called a POA or DPOA (Durable Power of Attorney)
  • A written, legal document
  • Your legal authorization for someone else to act on your behalf, NOT OVER YOU.
  • A chance to preserve your voice and make your wishes known, for when you can't speak for yourself.
  • Valid until cancelled, revoked, until an expiration date, until a guardian is appointed over you, or until you die.
  • Simple or complex, depending on the circumstances and your wishes.
  • Not the same as a guardianship, which requires going to court, a finding of necessity and court supervision of the guardian.
  • Still needed even if you have a health care proxy, which are only good for persistently unconscious and vegetative states and for the immediate needs of the situation.

Terms to Know...
 

  • Agent - The person to whom the power is given, the person acting on your behalf. Sometimes an agent is called an "attorney in fact."
  • Principal - The person who gives or authorizes another person to act on his behalf. May also be called "grantor."

Types of POAs

  • Simple POA
    • Signed in front of a notary public
    • Automatically ends when the principal dies, when a guardian is appointed over the principal, or when the principal becomes mentally incompetent, as determined by two physicians
  • Durable POA
    • Signed in front of two witnesses and a notary public
    • Automatically ends when the principal dies or when superseded by a guardianship
    • Does not end if the principal becomes mentally incompetent, unless superseded by a guardianship order
  • Immediate POA (sometimes called a "springing" POA)
    • Signed in front of two witnesses and a notary public
    • Automatically ends when the principal dies or is no longer under a disability
    • Does not go into effect UNTIL the principal becomes incompetent or is unable to speak for himself based on statements by two independent physicians
    • A doctor determines competency, but in the POA you can establish guidelines to guide the doctor
    • Does not allow the power to be used until the principal is unable to conduct business for himself
  • Health Care or Business affairs POA
    • Signed in front of two witnesses and a notary public
    • Automatically ends when the principal dies, unless superseded by a guardianship order
    • If durable, does not end if the principal becomes mentally incompetent
    • Can be general or for a limited purpose or circumstance

Examples of when to consider a POA

  • When parents must leave their children with relatives or others for a period of time and a consent to medical care is needed
  • When a spouse cannot be present at a real estate closing
  • When an older person may wish a relative to conduct business for them
  • When a spouse will be out of town for a period of time and the other spouse may need to bring a lawsuit or enter into a contract
  • When faced with a serious illness and the possibility of a period of not being able to conduct business
  • When faced with a serious illness and you want someone to make medical decisions based on your instructions
  • When planning for your senior years, possible incapacity, physical illness, or in case of emergency
Last Review and Update: Feb 28, 2022
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