A power of attorney (POA) is a valid form that permits someone else (an agent) to act or make decisions about your finances, health care, or property on your behalf. This can be for a limited time if you’re, for instance, hospitalized or aren’t available to perform daily tasks, like making business decisions.
You could also grant someone else POA in the long term. This may be advised if you’ve been diagnosed with a severe illness, like dementia. A long-term POA may also be recommended if you’re afraid you might lose your mental ability to make choices in the future.
What You Might Not Know About POA
If you’re planning to prepare a POA for the first time, it’s advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced and reputable lawyer. This might not be legally required, but it’s recommended. This is because the professional could thoroughly explain to you what granting someone POA means. They can advise you on the risks associated with this document and also make sure that you’ve drafted the POA per your state’s requirements. In addition, they can examine it to ensure that you don’t miss anything important.
That being said, there are a few more things you should know about a POA before drafting or executing it.
A POA Is Different From A Will
A will and a POA are two different things. The former is a document that directs how your wealth should be redistributed after your death. In contrast, the latter only allows someone else to make decisions on your behalf while you’re still alive.
Also, a POA ceases to be useful once the validity term expires or upon your death. On the other hand, a will can be ineffective if you nullify it or if the court discovers it was created fraudulently or under undue influence.
A POA Agent Can’t Create, Modify, Or Nullify Your Will
The POA agent you choose might not be permitted by law to create, change, or revoke your will. If you decide to write your own, you can draft it on paper or design it online on websites like Willed or others. To modify it, you’ll have to either prepare a new one or make corrections to your current one. If you need to revoke your existing will, you’ll have to destroy or change the present one, or draft a new one.
You Can Still Make Some Decisions
A POA only gives your agent power under the limitations you’ve set. This doesn’t mean that you’re entirely restricted from making decisions or acting on your own behalf, especially if you’re still in an excellent capacity to do so.
There Are Different Types Of POA
One POA might not serve all purposes. There are various kinds of POA, and all are created for different reasons. For instance, a durable POA gives your agent power upon execution of the document and even after you’re incapable of acting or making decisions by yourself. A springing POA, however, only becomes effective once certain conditions are met—for example, when you become incapacitated.
There’s also a general POA that allows your agent to act on your behalf in all situations. This includes business, monetary, health, and legal matters. In contrast, a special or limited POA gives an agent power only in certain areas.
For instance, it can be in health care alone. This might be regarding surgery or treatment options for chronic illnesses like cancer and others. This POA can also be for financial matters only, like paying bills on your behalf.
Therefore, before preparing your POA, you must first identify which kind is suitable for you. This will depend on your current situation, preferences, and what you’re looking to attain with the POA.
It Can Be Amended
A POA can be amended if you change your mind about your current agent or feel that the document doesn’t sufficiently fit your needs. However, you must be capable of modifying it on your own for you to execute any changes. In this case, it isn’t required by law, but it’s vital to consult a lawyer to help you make the necessary modifications.
If you’re preparing a POA for the first time, it’s advisable to consult a professional attorney. They’ll further explain to you its purpose and help ensure you capture all essential details in it. Besides that, they can also explain any risks associated with it. That said, with this article, you now have a basic understanding of the five essential things you need to know before writing or executing your POA.