What Are Powers of Attorney?
While the name may conjure up thoughts of fancy lawyers dressed to the nines, a Power of Attorney actually has very little to do with lawyers.
Rather, a “Power of Attorney” is a written authorization giving another individual the right to enter into certain agreements or make certain decisions on one’s behalf. The person named as the “power of attorney” agent need not be a lawyer – in fact, it is typically a family member or friend.
Power of Attorney documents may be used for financial or medical purposes. We recommend that individuals consider setting up Power of Attorney documents for both financial and medical purposes.
Powers of Attorney may be as broad, or as limited as one wishes. Many individuals set up temporary Powers of Attorney before going on prolonged vacations in order to ensure that someone “back home” will be able to handle any emergencies that may come up.
In general, individuals choose to set up comprehensive documents that allow their agents to handle ALL financial decisions. As a safeguard, however, these documents often contain a “springing” provision that requires certification by one or more doctors that the individual is no longer able to manage his or her own financial affairs. Prior to execution of the certification by the doctor(s), the powers in the document are essentially dormant and cannot be used.
Who Needs a Power of Attorney?
We recommend that all individuals consider setting up a Power of Attorney. While most of us are not keen on giving up control over our financial affairs to someone else, the reality is that many of us will one day become unable to manage matters on our own and will need the assistance of a third party.
By setting up a Power of Attorney, you can choose the individual(s) who will act on your behalf when the need arises, rather than being subject to court appointment of your agents.
If you would like to set a Power of Attorney, give us a call to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.