A power of attorney (POA) document allows someone else – a person you appoint -- to make legal decisions on your behalf. With a financial POA, your agent is authorized to make financial decisions, while a medical POA allows your agent to do the decision-making about your medical treatment.
An emergency could arise at any time, preventing you from handling certain matters, and having a POA in place is a way of preparing for the worst. An estate planning lawyer can help you decide which type of POA document meets your needs, but the following guide should give a basic understanding of the various options.
A limited POA gives your chosen agent – also known as your attorney-in-fact – the power to manage specific assets. In most cases, the arrangement ends at a time specified in the legal document.
With a general POA, your agent has the right to make a wide range of decisions for you. They’ll be able to manage all of your affairs, which can be helpful if you’re incapacitated or simply need assistance.
Most POA documents are drafted to be durable, giving the agent power to act on your behalf until your death. A durable POA can be limited or general in scope, and you can rescind it at any time.
A non-durable POA isn’t intended to last forever or to provide protection in the event of incapacitation. Instead, the legal document is used when you can’t be present for a specific event and you need someone to act as your legal representative.
A springing POA can be durable or non-durable, and it can be drafted to encompass a limited or broad-ranging number of affairs. With this arrangement, however, the agent’s power is only triggered once certain conditions you name in the document are met.
Giving someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf doesn’t mean you’re giving up your own power. The arrangement is similar to being the co-owner of a joint account – and you always have the final say. You can revoke the power of your agent at any point, too, or appoint multiple people to work together as co-agents.
Estate planning lawyers often recommend drafting separate POA documents for your finances and medical care. Why? Doing so makes thing simpler for your agent or agents. Plus, the banks don’t need to know all about your personal health – nor do your medical professionals need to be fully informed about your financial situation.
For advice on establishing a POA, turn to the legal team at Schultz and Kellar. We’re experts in estate and financial planning, and we work with clients throughout the northeast Texas and Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area. Contact our Southlake office to discuss power of attorney arrangements with an experienced estate planning lawyer today.