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What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a document that allows someone else to make legal decisions for you, when you cannot make those decisions for yourself. These documents help you to be prepared for the future and provide peace of mind.


The power of attorney is an important estate planning tool and should be included in every well-crafted estate plan.


Why would you need a Power of Attorney?


There are a variety of circumstances where you may want another person to perform legal binding acts on your behalf, but before that is possible, you need to have a power of attorney authorizing that person to handle your affairs.


Here are some circumstances where you would need a power of attorney; if you are incapacitated, if you travel frequently (in case you need someone in the country to act in your behalf while you are globe-trotting), and most commonly power of attorneys are used for the elderly in case of incapacity or a long-term health crisis.



In these instances your power of attorney allows an agent or "attorney in fact" to make financial or health care decisions on your behalf. They can pay bills, manage your finances, and even make health care decisions for you.


Do not worry your agent is a fiduciary, meaning your appointed agent must act in your best interest, but with this much responsibility, it is best to choose someone you trust.


Types of Power of Attorney Documents


The Power of Attorney is a versatile tool that can be crafted to meet your specific needs. There are limited and general powers of attorney, as well as springing and durable powers of attorney.


  • Limited Power of Attorney: A limited power of attorney gives your agent power to act on your behalf for a specific and limited purpose. For example, you may give another person authority to sign a deed to property on your behalf if you are unavailable to do so yourself. The Limited Power of Attorney is a one time transfer of your authority to another person.

  • General Power of Attorney: It is what is sounds like. Gives your agent all of your decision making power and authority, your agent can do anything you are able to do. This the type of power of attorney commonly used in estate plans.

  • Spring Power of Attorney: A springing power of attorney does not become effective until you become incapacitated. The power of attorney itself will define incapacity and set out what must happen before your agent can act on your behalf.

  • Durable Power of Attorney: A durable power of attorney will survive incapacity. Any estate plan power of attorney should be durable.

Financial and Health Care Power of Attorney


Financial: A financial power of attorney gives your agent authority to make financial decisions. It gives your agent authority to pay bills, manage your finances, sell or buy property, and more.


Health Care: A health care power of attorney gives your agent the power to make decisions for you regarding medical treatment, in the event that you are unable to do so for yourself.


In the case of a health care power of attorney your agent only has power to make these decisions when you are incapacitated. If you regain the ability to make decisions, your agent will no longer have any decision-making authority.



Although, there is a court provided structure to appoint a guardian to make medical decisions for you, if you are incapacitated, this process can be time consuming, costly, and give power to someone you may not want to have it. All of this can be avoided by appointing an agent in a health care power of attorney.


 

In addition to Health Care and Financial Power of Attorneys there is also a Child Care Power of Attorney which allows you to appoint a guardian to care for your children, if you are incapacitated.


Power of Attorney documents are an important piece of your estate plan and are included in Hometown Law’s estate plan bundle which starts at $200 per person or $350 for a couple (for a simple will). With this bundle you get a will, a healthcare directive, healthcare power of attorney, and financial power of attorney. Our estate planning bundle will help you prepare for the future and enjoy the peace of mind that preparation brings.


If you are interested please contact us.


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