Old age sinking its feet in our lives often makes us question how and who will take care of our financial, healthcare, and other estate distribution decisions in case of our demise or incapacitation. What about if you stay away from your home, traveling, or on military service? Who must take the helm of your financial and business matters? These often come up as a common dilemma.
We require a power of attorney to have a solution for these dilemmas. But before that, what is a power of attorney? You may ask. To put it plainly, it is a legally binding document that gives another individual legal authority to handle your financial, estate, health, and other crucial affairs on your behalf. This article guides you through the necessities and functions of power of attorney (POA) and what power of attorney rights after death one should be aware of.
How a Power of Attorney (POA) Works?
A power of attorney (POA) legally appoints a specific person to act on behalf of another. The person you choose to have your Power of Attorney is referred to as an agent. The agent or attorney-in-fact looks after valuable financial, medical, and other tasks as stated by the grantor. The extent of powers your agent may be able to use will depend on the type of POA you create.
Most POA documents empower the agent to take action on behalf of the principal, provided that the principal is in sound health, both physically and mentally. The agreement terminates automatically if the principal is incapacitated or passes away. However, a durable power of attorney remains effective even after the grantor is incapacitated.
A power of attorney may expire for several reasons, including when the principal, who can override a power of attorney, revokes the power, passes away, the agreement is declared invalid by a court, or the agent is unable to fulfill the duties. A divorce may render the authorization void if the principal and the agent are married.
The power of attorney rights and limitations depend on the authorizations granted by the principal. There is a POA for various purposes, such as future healthcare, financial affairs, business deals, and many more. Sometimes, an agent is given authority for specific situations under specific conditions.
Different types of Power of Attorney
Since there are several POA forms, you must grasp their distinctions to select the one that suits your requirements.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney lends the agent broad decision-making authority. With this, the person will have the most discretion to handle your assets and oversee your healthcare. However, a general POA expires upon the incapacitation or death of the grantor.
Durable Power of Attorney
Someone may only use a durable power of attorney when they want someone else to act on their behalf. A non-durable POA expires upon revocation or incapacitation of the grantor. However, a durable POA remains valid if the grantor wishes the agent to continue exercising legal authority despite his incapacitation or death.
Special Power of Attorney
Select a limited or special power of attorney if you wish to constrain how much authority an agent can exercise. The extent of the agent’s duties must be specified in as much detail as feasible before signing to notarize a limited POA.
Medical Power of Attorney
In the event of a life-threatening illness, a medical power of attorney empowers the agent to make medical care decisions on behalf of the principal. The majority of health POAs fall under the durable POA because of the possibility that the principal may become incapacitated to make decisions. The medical power of attorney rights and limitations depends on the grantor’s medical preferences.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney helps you assign a trusted individual as your agent specifically for your financial management. Your Financial POA can handle your financial affairs on your behalf and with the same legal authority as you.
How to Get a Power of Attorney (POA)?
Now that you understand how POA functions, let us focus on how to get a power of attorney. The initial step to getting a POA is choosing a trustworthy person to manage your affairs if you become incapable. Then, you must select what and under what events the agent may act on your behalf.
Sign and execute your document as per state rules to give your POA legal power. In most cases, this requires notarization or signing in front of witnesses. Consider providing a copy to your attorney-in-fact or directing them to a copy if necessary.
Power of attorney form varies in different states.
Different online sites also provide sample templates to assist you in creating a legally binding POA document. You may also seek the help of a lawyer to help you out with legal terms. The principal must have sufficient mental capacity while creating the POA for it to be legally valid.
Last but not least, a POA may be terminated or revoked at any moment by either creating a new document in its place or by notifying all parties that the authority of the POA is no longer in effect.
What happens if you don't have power of attorney?
Who must take care of your children if you pass away due to unforeseen events? What about your business and financial affairs? Who would you trust to handle your assets when you are away from the country for a long time? Power of attorney can protect your financial and estate interests, health, and end-of-life care. Without a POA, your family and children may have to deal with strenuous legal affairs.
When you can no longer take care of your finances, estate, and other vital matters, the court can appoint one or more people to act on your behalf if you don’t have a power of attorney. Depending on the state law, individuals appointed are called committees, guardians, or conservators.
Who Should Be Your Attorney-in-Fact?
A person to whom the grantor gives legal authority to make decisions on various affairs is known as an agent or an Attorney-in-fact. One typically chooses their spouse, family member, or close friend as their agent. But there are certain aspects you must keep in mind before you decide who should become your Attorney-in-fact.
You must have complete confidence in the individual you choose to be your agent. The person you select will have access to and be able to make choices concerning your health, residence, business affairs, personal property, and financial accounts, depending on the instructions you provide in a POA.
You can also name two or more attorneys-in-fact if necessary. However, unless you give each agent a distinct set of duties, all agents will need to concur on every choice. Make sure the two agents can function well together.
There are no specific requirements to function as an attorney-in-fact, the exception being that the individual cannot be minor or otherwise handicapped. An ideal option is a person you can trust and has the integrity to understand legal and other responsibilities.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants the principal’s agent the right to act on the principal’s behalf. The agent may have limited or unrestricted power to make decisions on the principal’s health, property, or finances on behalf of the principal. A POA is very helpful when a person is incapable of making decisions due to various reasons like incapacitation or being away from home.
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