Accidents and injuries occur all the time. That’s why every adult needs a power of attorney, in the same way that everyone needs a will. A power of attorney lets you name a person who can step in to conduct your affairs, if you are unable to.
Many people assume that if something unexpected happens to them, like a sudden illness or an accident, their spouse or a family member will be automatically able to handle everything for them. That’s not always the case.
The Tri-County Times explains in its article, “Power of attorney protects loved ones,” that a POA is granted to an "attorney-in-fact" or "agent." It gives that individual the legal authority to make decisions for an incapacitated "principal." The laws for creating a power of attorney vary based on the state. However, there are some general similarities.
If no one has been named as an agent or granted legal access to financial, medical and other information, family members may be left out of making decisions for their loved ones. Further, the government may appoint someone to make certain decisions for an individual, if no agent has been is named. The court process involved for a loved one to be appointed as your agent to act on your behalf for financial or heath care purposes can be expensive, time consuming, and overwhelming for most people.
Almost everyone can benefit from establishing a power of attorney.
A signed power of attorney will remove the legal obstacles that may arise in the event that a person is no longer physically or mentally capable of managing certain tasks.
A power of attorney is a broad term that covers a wide range of decision-making. The main types of POA are a general or financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, and special power of attorney.
The responsibilities of some of these overlap, but there are some legal differences. The general or financial power of attorney gives your agent authority to perform transactions in your name for business or contractual purposes. A financial powers of attorney can be effective immediately or upon the occurrence of incapacity. A health care power of attorney allows your agent to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so on your own. Both of these powers of attorney should be "durable", meaning the endure and are effective once you become incapacitated.
An agent appointed through a POA may be able to handle many tasks, depending on what powers are granted in the document. They include banking transactions, filing tax returns, managing government-supplied benefits, deciding on medical treatments and executing advanced health care directives.
A financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney should both be discussed with your estate planning attorney, as part of your overall estate plan. Doing this with an attorney ensures that you will have the documents prepared correctly, so that if and when you need them, they will be accepted by financial institutions or health care providers. Contact the Soto Law Firm today to find out how to get the process started.
Reference: Tri-County (MI) Times (January 24, 2019) “Power of attorney protects loved ones”