A power of attorney is a legal document that confers certain power that you (the Principal) possess to another. It is up to you to decide who will act for you, and that person is called your Agent or your Attorney-in-Fact. This person does not need to be an attorney, but it should be someone you trust and that would do a good job. If there are specific tasks, and the tasks are completed, the Agent’s power comes to an end and the power of attorney is no longer effective. Also, a general power of attorney that confers a broad set of powers ends when the Principal losses mental capacity, or dies. Sometimes a power of attorney is specific and intended to accomplish a single task such as selling a home, or gathering some documents. This power of attorney also ends when the task is complete.
A Health Care Power of Attorney is also known as a Medical Power of Attorney, a Living Will, or more modernly it is called an Advance Health Care Directive. This, like a power of attorney, gives you the power to designate an Agent to act for you when you are unable to make medical decisions about your own medical care. Please see my blog for more on the Advance Healthcare Directive here: Advance Healthcare Directive Blog Post
As discussed above, the general power of attorney ends if the Principal losses mental capacity due to something like Alzheimer’s Disease. A durable power of attorney continues even after the Principal losses capacity. This is why it is used so often for Estate Planning. It is a powerful document in that it can convey the power to the Agent to essentially step into the shoes of the Principal and do anything the Principal could do for him or herself such as make financial decisions, sell property, enter into contracts, etc. All of this would have the same effect as if the Principal had done them him or herself. It is usually an easy decision for a married couple to name each other as their Agent. The slightly more difficult decision is where a single person has to choose an Agent.
A Springing Power of Attorney comes into effect upon some event. Some of the drawbacks to using this type of power of attorney is HIPPA privacy concerns, delay in the Agent actually acquiring the power to act, and defining how incapacity is determined.
See lots of estate planning information on my website at: www.myestate-plan.com
If you need some help creating or modifying your estate plan, please give me a call today and let’s start planning.
Thank you for reading.
William Dan Powell
Just like my website, nothing in this blog is intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. I am licensed to practice law in California. Further, please remember that I speak in generalities in my blog (and on my website). There are so many different factors that can contribute and completely change the outcome that it would not be practical to discuss all of them here. This is why I speak in generalities. Thanks again for reading.
This document is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this is to be considered legal advice. Nothing in this shall create an attorney/client relationship, nor shall it create a confidential relationship. If you need legal advice (in California), feel free to contact me or someone licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. I assume no liability or responsibility for actions taken, or not taken, as a result of