There certainly comes a time in one’s life when one can no longer function as expected, probably as a result of ill health, accident, or old age. This can make it difficult or impossible for the person to communicate with others, and as a result, his or her financial matters or other personal matters may suffer. An ill health, accident, or old age can be unavoidable, but who says one’s financial businesses and other personal matters has to suffer because one is ill, had an accident, or is old? It does not have to be so “IF” you get a Power Of Attorney.
What is a Power Of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a documented authorization given to an appointed person as a legal right to act on behalf of another. If you decide to get a power of attorney, then you are the “Principal”, while the person you grant the right to make legal decisions on your behalf is known as the “attorney-of-fact” or simply your “agent”.
A Power of Attorney can either be a durable (Power of Attorney) or a non-durable (Power of Attorney). The difference between the two is that durable Power of Attorney stays in effect even when the person who made it can no longer handle matters on his or her own; but a non-durable Power of Attorney ceases to be effective if the person that made it can no longer handle his or her personal issues as a result of mental disability.
The attorney-of-fact is the person that is appointed to make important decisions on behalf of another person (the principal). In setting up a power of attorney, the principal has the right to declare how much power will be given to the attorney-of-fact. The attorney-of-fact may be granted any of the following:
- “Specific (power of attorney)” or
- “General (power of attorney)”.
If an attorney-of-fact is granted the first, he or she has the right to deliberate on only a particular issue, but if it is a general power of attorney, the attorney-of-fact has unlimited right to handle most (if not all) of the principal’s financial and personal affairs. The actions of the attorney-of-fact are generally considered those of the principal, therefore, choosing an attorney-of-fact is an important decision more so, because the court does not have any sort of regulation over the decisions made by the attorney-of-fact. This makes it possible for the attorney-of-fact to misuse his authority without being questioned. The attorney-of-fact must be a person that is trustworthy and acts in total good faith on behalf of the principal. The attorney-of-fact can be the principal’s spouse, adult child, relatives, friends or trusted person. Your specialist Power Of Attorney Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Encino, Tarzana, Chatsworth and the Entire San Fernando Valley
is available to clear all your doubts and confusions.
A financial power of attorney gives an attorney-of-fact the right to handle financial transactions, and make financial decisions on behalf of the principal. The attorney-of-fact can hire an expert if need be. The financial power of attorney can be as simple as the right to handle a single business transaction (i.e. non-durable power of attorney), or it can extend to a point where the attorney-of-fact will have to make important financial decision on behalf of the principal regarding all of the principal’s financial matters over a long period of time.
Medical Power Of Attorney
This type of power of attorney grants the attorney-of-fact the right to deliberate on, and make decisions regarding the principal’s health care when he or she is too ill or too injured to speak. The medical power of attorney is more like a durable power of attorney because the attorney-of-fact still has the right to make decisions concerning the principal’s health even when the principal is incapacitated. The attorney-of-fact is expected to work very closely to the health care givers to ensure that the principal gets an appropriate medical care.
Asides the medical power of attorney, the principal can come up with another health care instruction document to clarify further issues concerning his health. This document known as “living will” (or “health care declaration”) provides, in clear terms and in accordance to the principal’s wish, health care instructions which your agent and health care providers are to adhere to. In some cases, the medical power of attorney is combined with the health care declaration in one form, to make things easier.
As an experienced Power Of Attorney Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Encino, Tarzana, Chatsworth and the Entire San Fernando Valley,
I always advise my clients that it is better to have separate documents for medical power of attorney, and financial power of attorney. This is so that your financial broker does not need to be bothered with your medical details. The same applies to your health care giver who does not need to be bothered with your financial issues. Although, you can still retain the same attorney-of-fact/agent for both power of attorney, or at least name people that can work well together.
Protecting The Document
It has been earlier mentioned that the court has no right to interfere in the decisions made by the attorney-of-fact as it is seen as the principal’s decision and should be respected. But if the principal suspects that the attorney-of-fact may at one point not yield to the agreements in the document, he or she can go ahead to protect the document in ways like
Terminating The Power Of Attorney
- Making a video tape of the selection of the attorney-in-fact, the agreement between both parties, and the signing of the power of attorney document.
- Signing the document in the presence of witnesses who will agree to testify to the principal’s knowledge and voluntary signing of the document if the need arises.
- Obtaining a doctor’s report to ascertain the principal’s state of mind at the time the decision was made.
- Having a lawyer review the document and testify to the principal’s mental competence if the need arises.
The power of attorney documents can be terminated if some conditions arise. For instance, the death of the principal, destroying the document according to the principal’s wish if he or she is competent to do so, simply terminating the power of attorney by writing a document that is signed, notarized and sent to the attorney-of-fact, the unavailability of the attorney-in-fact. If the attorney-in-fact/agent kind of goes “missing-in-action” or dies without any alternative agent as named by the principal, then the power of attorney can be terminated. If the principal’s attorney-in-fact is the principal’s spouse, a divorce is considered a reason to terminate the power of attorney (Not applicable in all states).
For all your power of attorney related matters, the Leventhal Law Group, P.C offers free and no obligation consultation with a qualified attorney. Call 818-347-5800 for a free consultation today!