A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to give power to another person to act or make decisions on your behalf. When you give someone this power, you are giving them the power to act in your name and take actions that legally bind you. You can execute either a Limited Power of Attorney or a General Power of Attorney. A Limited Power of Attorney grants limited power for another person to perform specific acts on your behalf, such as signing a check or other legal document. A General Power of Attorney gives another person the power to act for you in any matter, effectively giving them the power to act as you. You should always be cautious in giving another person a General Power of Attorney. When you give someone a General Power of Attorney to act on your behalf, they can do any of the following: enter contracts that legally bind you, access and spend money from your accounts, sell your property, etc. A General Power of Attorney should only be given to someone you trust completely. A Power of Attorney is effective while you are living.
You may also give someone a Health Care Power of Attorney. A Health Care Power of Attorney gives another person the power to be your agent and make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The power given in a Health Care Power of Attorney can be broad or limited. A Health Care Power of Attorney also allows you to give directives regarding life-sustaining treatment or to leave that decision to the person who you name as your agent in the Health Care Power of Attorney. Having a Health Care Power of Attorney can help to avoid delays in your treatment and help to make sure that your treatment wishes are followed if you become unable to make those decisions.
It is important to remember that the person executing/granting a Power of Attorney must be competent to do so. Often, we are contacted about a Power of Attorney when a family member or loved one has become incompetent and unable to handle their own affairs. At this point, it is too late for them to execute/grant a Power of Attorney. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have regarding a Limited, General or Health Care Power of Attorney.