What Is a Power of Attorney?

The estate planning process requires many decisions. Aside from who gets what property after your death, you need to consider who can administer your affairs while you are alive. As an estate planning lawyer from a firm like Yee Law Group can explain, a power of attorney is how you can name someone to make decisions on your behalf. Discover more about how it works.

General Power of Attorney

When you want to give one person the responsibility to manage multiple facets of your affairs, you would use a general power of attorney. A person with a general power of attorney can do things, such as buy and sell assets and property, sign contracts and pay your bills. State laws dictate how long someone may have this kind of power of attorney.

Limited Power of Attorney

On the opposite side of the spectrum is a limited power of attorney. This grants someone the ability to perform a specific task on your behalf. The most common use is to allow someone else to sign a legal document should you be unavailable. The limited power of attorney is considered void once the task is complete.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your affairs are managed if you are incapacitated. This document becomes active upon your signature but will only transfer the powers indicated if you can no longer act on your behalf. There can place restrictions on a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney lasts until you can either resume taking care of yourself and your affairs or when you die. You may also revoke a durable power of attorney by filing the appropriate documentation. You would do this if you wanted to change the person you previously gave the abilities to.

Medical Power of Attorney

When you create an estate plan, your attorney should recommend a medical directive, also known as an advanced directive or medical power of attorney. This document is crucial for ensuring your wishes regarding your medical care are followed. A medical power of attorney gives the person of your choosing the ability to take control of your medical treatment when you can no longer do it. It allows the person chosen to do things such as:

  • Approve or disprove surgical procedures
  • Decide what medical facility you are treated at
  • Choose whether you are on life support

If you also have a living will that spells out how you want end-of-life care to occur, your medical power of attorney will have to sign off when the time comes.

Power of attorney is something you should not hand over to just anyone. Instead, speak to an estate planning lawyer in your city to discuss these documents further.