What Legal Authority Can Be Granted With A Power Of Attorney Document?
Typically, when we are doing estate planning, we create a power of attorney that grants all powers. This gives someone else the right to act as if they are you for all financial purposes. A power of attorney is a guardianship bypass for the finances. Someone would sign this so that if they become incapacitated, other people can pay their bills and get things taken care of without having to go to court and get guardianship established.
The list of powers that are specifically enumerated on the state power of attorney include:
- Real estate transactions and tangible personal property transactions
- Establishing a trust and other beneficiary transactions
- Paying personal family costs and maintenance or gifts
- Applying for Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits
- Retirement transactions
- Pooling retirement accounts
- Filing taxes
- Handling digital assets
Do You Typically See Situations Where Someone Will Have One Person As Their Health Care Power Of Attorney And Another Person Handling The Finances?
Most of the time, the executors are the same people who will be the power of attorneys. I like to limit the power of attorneys to one person acting at a time and maybe a second alternate, just in case. If the first person says they no longer want to do it or passes away, we can easily draft a new power of attorney and have a new second alternate take over. I like to list everyone that you may possibly believe will make the right decisions. That way, someone is available to give permission to medical providers.
How Can I Select An Agent For Power Of Attorney?
Most of the time, a person’s agent is their spouse. Every now and then, we will get a client who doesn’t trust their spouse and, in that case, the agent is usually an adult child. It has to be someone you absolutely trust not to sell everything you own or run off to Vegas and gamble all your money away.
What Is A Durable Power Of Attorney, Or Is That The Same Thing As A Power Of Attorney?
Durable means that it can survive someone becoming incapacitated. Most of the time, my suggestion is to make your power of attorney effective immediately and have it stay effective until you pass. Regardless of what happens, unless you revoke it, it will remain in effect. The other option is having the power of attorney spring into effect once you are considered incapacitated or disabled. My problem with that route is that you have to rely on doctors to make that decision. It opens banks and others up to questioning whether you are really incapacitated or not. If you make it available immediately, then there is no question about whether are you incapacitated.
What Is The Health Care Directive And Does Everyone Need One?
A health care directive is a directive to physicians, commonly known as the living will. This document indicates your preferences in two different conditions: a terminal condition or an irreversible condition. How do you want to be treated? Do you want them to take heroic measures to keep you alive for as long as possible? Do you just want to be kept comfortable to allowed to pass as gently as possible? Would you want to live for decades on a machine? In my experience, nearly everyone chooses no heroic measures, but the choice is yours.