Pub. Date: Feb 2012
Country: United States
A power of attorney is a legal document by which you can appoint another person (usually a trusted friend, family member, colleague or adviser) to make medical, financial, legal and other business decisions on your behalf.
Under your power of attorney, you can give your agent either general authority or limited authority. Where you give your agent general authority, he will be authorized to act as your authorized legal representative in relation to the whole cross-section of your legal and financial affairs until such time as that authorization is terminated. In other words, your agent will have full legal authority to make decisions and take actions on your behalf, as if you were taking them yourself. This could, for example, include signing letters and checks, executing contracts, etc!
With limited authority, your agent is given authority in relation to the specific matters you specify in your power of attorney document. These matters may relate to real estate, bonds, shares and commodity trading, operating a business, instituting of defending litigation, banking, insurance and virtually any other matter. Your agent will not be entitled to represent you in any matter not expressly set out in your power of attorney.
Both limited and general powers of attorney can also be classified as either 'ordinary' or 'durable'. Ordinary powers of attorney can be useful where you wish to simply authorize an agent to tend to some financial or commercial arrangements when you are unable to do so yourself. This may include opening or closing back accounts, buying or selling real estate or simply completing a contract. These types of powers of attorney will always come to an automatic end if you become mentally incapacitated.
Durable powers of attorney, on the other hand, do not come to an end when you become incapacitated (and in many cases only commence when you become incapacitated) and for this reason they should form an integral part of your estate plan. This is because they allow you to appoint someone you trust (usually a family member or close friend) to manage your legal and financial affairs while you are incapacitated thereby allowing them to deal with your assets and avoid a depletion in the value of your same. This could be important if your assets ever needed to be sold to pay for medical bills or to keep up mortgage repayments etc. It could be equally important to sell assets if there was a collapse in share or property prices, for example.
It is also possible to make a healthcare power of attorney (sometimes called a medical power of attorney) under which you can appoint someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to make these decisions yourself. In the absence of choosing somebody yourself, state law will specify a particular family member who will have the responsibility for making medical decisions for you. Of course, this may not be someone you would have approved of given the choice.
Healthcare powers of attorney not only ensure that you have someone you know and trust making these decisions for you but also allow you direct what treatments and procedures you are willing or unwilling to accept. Your agent will be charged with ensuring that your wishes are carried out in such circumstances.
If you fail to make a valid durable power of attorney for finance and property your family (even your spouse) may be legally helpless to manage your property and your assets. Similarly, by failing to make a healthcare power of attorney, you could end up receiving medical treatment that you would not have wished to receive.
The only way to protect yourself from these dangers is to have a power of attorney which authorizes someone you trust to make these important decisions for you and which expressly sets out your wishes and requirements in relation to the making of legal, financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Our estate planning lawyers have created a simple plain book which to help make your very own power of attorney for any occasion. It's called "Make Your Own Power of Attorney".
Make Your Own Power of Attorney provides you with step-by-step instructions, detailed information and all the forms necessary to ensure that your legal, financial and medical affairs can be managed during any period in which you are unable to do so yourself. It will take you step-by-step through the process of creating your own powers of attorney and appointing an agent to manage your affairs.
Amongst other documents, it allows you to create the following powers of attorney:
This is a must have for anyone serious on having a complete estate plan.
Chapter 1 - Powers of Attorney
What is a Power of Attorney?
The Need for a Power of Attorney
Dangers of Using Certain Power of Attorney Forms
Chapter 2 - Types of Powers of Attorney
Types of Power of Attorney
General Power of Attorney
Limited Power of Attorney
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Ordinary and Durable Powers of Attorney
Durable Power of Attorney
Springing Powers of Attorney
Mutual Powers of Attorney
Cascading Powers of Attorney
Chapter 3 - Who Needs a Power of Attorney?
Who Can Make a Power of Attorney?
Should You Have a Power of Attorney?
What Happens Without a Power of Attorney?
What If You Don’t Think You Need a Power of Attorney?
Marriage Living Trust Joint Tenancy
Chapter 4 - Dealing with Incapacity
Challenging a Determination That You Are Incapacitated
Chapter 5 - The Principal and the Agent
The Relationship Between Principal and Agent
Commencement of Authority Under a Power of Attorney
Required Qualifications of an Agent
Appointing a Relative as an Agent
Agents as Beneficiaries Under a Will
Joint or Joint and Independent Agents
Obligations of an Agent
Scope of an Agent’s Powers
Typical Powers of an Agent
Responsibilities of an Agent
Restricting the Powers of an Agent
Can Agents Make Medical Decisions?
Qualities to Look For in an Agent
What if I Don’t Trust Anyone to be My Agent?
Fees Associated With Appointing an Agent
Chapter 6 - Law Governing Powers of Attorney
Creating a Power of Attorney
Witness to a Power of Attorney
Filing or Recording a Power of Attorney
Chapter 7 - Commencement and Cessation of Powers of Attorney
Commencement of a Power of Attorney
Duration of a Power of Attorney
Chapter 8 - Revocation of a Power of Attorney
Chapter Overview What is a Revocation?
Why Revoke a Power of Attorney?
Must a Power of Attorney be Revoked in Writing?
When Can a Power of Attorney be Revoked?
How to Revoke a Power of Attorney?
Chapter 9 - Preventing Challenges to a Power of Attorney
Preventing Challenges to a Power of Attorney
Chapter 10 - Alternatives to Using Powers of Attorney
Advanced Medical Directives
Types of Agencies
Conservatorships & Guardianships
Appendix 1 - Signing Instructions
Instructions for Completion of the General Power of Attorney Document
Instructions for Completion of the Durable General Power of Attorney Document
Instructions for Completion of the Limited Power of Attorney Document
Instructions for Completion of the Durable Limited Power of Attorney Document
Instructions for Completion of the Agent’s Acceptance of Appointment Document
Instructions for Completion of the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare & Living Will Document
Instructions for Completion of the Notice of Revocation of a Power of
Appendix 2 - Sample Powers of Attorney
Sample Powers of Attorney for Finance and Property
Sample Powers of Attorney for General Power of Attorney
Sample Powers of Attorney for Durable General Power of Attorney
Sample Powers of Attorney for Limited Power of Attorney
Sample Powers of Attorney for Durable Limited Power of Attorney
Appendix 3 - Agents Acceptance of Appointment Notice of Appointment
Agents Acceptance of Appointment
Notice of Appointment
Appendix 4 - Sample Powers of Attorney for Healthcare
Sample Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and
Appendix 5 - Notice of Revocation of a Power of Attorney
Notice of Revocation of a Power of Attorney
The following forms are included with this book:-
Power of Attorney for Finance
Powers of Attorney for Healthcare Forms