What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document which gives someone else power to act as an agent of another. The principal who signs a power of attorney designates someone to make decisions on their behalf in case of incapacity. A principal can choose what specific areas in which another will have the right to make decisions. A power of attorney might only have the power to pay bills or may have the power to sell and transfer real estate or make business decisions.
Example of Power of Attorney Responsibilities
For example, a mother may designate her son to be her power of attorney. When the mother’s dementia becomes debilitating to the point that she can no longer take care of paying her bills or keep track of medical records and insurance deductibles, her son has the authority to write checks from her bank account to pay her debts and to communicate with medical providers and her health insurance company to manage her medical bills.
A principal must sign the power of attorney when s/he is competent and understands the rights and responsibilities s/he is giving someone else to act on their behalf. For this reason, a power of attorney generally needs to be drafted and signed before someone actually needs one.
Getting Legal Help
Planning ahead is crucial to protecting your own future or your loved one. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you plan for the unexpected and give you peace of mind.