Powers of Attorney

Are there different types of Powers of Attorney?

There are two types of POA. The first one is over your property which allows the Attorney to deal with all your assets in accordance with your instructions. The second, is a POA over your personal care. This document allows the Attorney to make decisions as it relates to your health care.

What does a power of attorney do?

A POA is an authority given by an individual (typically referred to as ‘the grantor” or “the principal’) to another person (‘the attorney’) to act on behalf of the grantor in conducting his or her financial affairs or personal care. The grantor can restrict the way in which the attorney can conduct these affairs on his or her behalf, or the authority given can be quite open ended.

It allows you to select the person that you feel is most trustworthy and responsible to act on your behalf in the event that you are unable to act on your own behalf.

Why is it important to have one?

While individuals are understandably reluctant to think about such things as incapacitation, having a well drafted power of attorney is crucial to avoiding the expense, uncertainty, and family turmoil which is likely to occur when they do not exist.

For property the power of attorney is important in a number of circumstances. It allows the attorney to act for you in situations where you will be out of the country or otherwise unavailable to attend to certain financial matters and most importantly, it serves as a bridge between being incapacitated and death. In the instance where you are a surviving spouse who has inherited the entire estate of your spouse and have dependent children, without a power of attorney your loved ones will have to look to the courts or the Public Guardian and Trustee in order to obtain the authority to deal with your financial matters. A power of attorney can have many of the same provisions a will has in relation to taking care of the financial needs of your dependents.

For personal care the power of attorney allows for your instructions to be carried out with regard to matters such as the right to die with dignity and having someone discontinue medical treatment.

What can I provide for in my Power of Attorney for Property?

You may give your attorney the power to do anything you could do except make a will. Depending on the circumstances, you could give your attorney complete access to all of your affairs with detailed instructions on how to deal with your estate if you no longer have the ability to do so.

What can I provide for in my Power of Attorney for Personal Care?

A power of attorney for personal care covers not only direct health care issues, but also such matters as the decision to remain in your home or be moved to an assisted living residence, the clothes you wear, and the food you eat.

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