Powers of Attorney
Everyone over the age of 18 should have powers of attorney in place! Powers of attorney allow someone else to take care of you or your things if you should become incapacitated, or if you can't take care of them for yourself. Life happens: illness, accidents, and unforeseen emergencies can strike any time.
Having legal documents that appoint someone to handle your affairs if you can't, helps tremendously during these stressful times. Most common are the General Durable and Durable Healthcare Powers of Attorney.
General Durable Power of Attorney
General Durable Powers of Attorney name who you want to be in charge of your finances and assets when you can’t do it for yourself. Instances where you may be unable to care for your own assets and finances may not only be due to incapacity. You may be involved in an unforeseen travel mishap or other circumstances that prevent you from being physically present to handle your financial affairs.
Choosing a trusted agent is very important when executing durable powers of attorney. Most clients choose a trusted family member, friend, or independent professional as an agent to safeguard their finances during times of emergency or incapacity.
Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney
Durable Healthcare Powers of Attorney name who you want to make medical and healthcare decisions for your physical well being if you should become incapacitated. They also authorize the designated agent to receive information that may be otherwise protected under HIPAA laws regarding your health records.
Your healthcare agent should be someone who knows your personal and religious preferences regarding the type of healthcare you want to receive. They should also be someone who can carry out your wishes, regardless of their own personal convictions, when making difficult decisions.
Other Types of Powers of Attorney
Powers of attorney generally go into effect once they have been signed. They remain in effect until you revoke them or you pass away. If you are uncomfortable authorizing an agent to act on your behalf immediately and indefinitely, there are other options available.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney is only effective after certain criteria have been met causing it to “spring” into effect. Usually, this consists of a declaration of incompetence by one or two physicians.
The downside to a springing power of attorney is that not all instances when powers of attorney may be needed come after incompetency. Getting the qualifiers in place can be detrimental to time-sensitive transactions.
Limited Power of Attorney
A limited power of attorney is exactly what it sounds like. You can give someone specific powers over certain things, under specific circumstances, and even for specific time durations.
An example of when a limited power of attorney may be useful would be when you are traveling. You can authorize an agent to take care of pets, your home, and / or limited financial transactions if an emergency situation should arise while you are away. Most married couples name their spouse as their agent. Most married couples also often travel together, leaving no one at home who is legally authorized to care for things if needed.
Powers of Attorney for Young Adults
After the age of 18 parents no longer have legal authority to act on behalf of their children. Many young adults will still need to rely on their parents or other family members in the event of an emergency or accident. Having powers of attorney in place for your young adult children before sending them off to college can help provide a little peace of mind as families transition into this new stage of life.
Powerless Powers of Attorney
There are many do it yourself options available with templates and online service providers. Unfortunately, most people who use these services don’t know what they don’t know until it’s too late. This can result in an ineffective document, or a powerless power of attorney.
Having powers of attorney that are not properly executed or lack important provisions may result in the need for a probate court to appoint a guardian and / or conservator.
If you don’t have powers of attorney, have a young adult going off to college or have DIY documents you would like to have reviewed, call us today to schedule a consultation. Give yourself and your family peace of mind knowing that there is a plan in place and the legal documents necessary in case life happens.