A power of attorney (which is also known as a letter of attorney or POA, in short) is a written document that is legally binding which gives authorization for someone to act on or represent on another person’s behalf. It can encompass a variety of spheres from legal matters and business proceedings to private affairs. The person whose interests are being represented is called the grantor, principal, or donor, while the person acting on their behalf – the person who has been given the POA – is referred to as the attorney in fact or agent. A person can only give someone else power of attorney when they are fully aware and capable of understanding all the ramifications this entails. In other words, the grantor cannot give someone else power of attorney if they are not in a mentally capable state of doing so.
Why Would Someone Need a Power of Attorney?
There are a variety of circumstances that may lead to you needing to make use of a power of attorney, but it is highly recommended that all individuals have one. Say you are out of the country and leaving your children behind and something unexpected happens which means they need someone else to act on their behalf? No one else can act on your behalf for you while you’re away unless you have designated them. You may also wish to give your partner power of attorney to be able to act on matters that concern the both of you in your absence.
More often than not, power of attorney comes into play more and more as we get older and enter our twilight years. Diseases which are capable of incapacitating us, such as Alzheimer and Dementia, often leave us unable to make important decisions for ourselves and to act in our own best interests in the case of an emergency. Giving someone POA allows your attorney in fact to do this for you. In such cases you require a durable power of attorney, which means that even if you become incapacitated for any reason, your attorney in fact can act on your behalf. This is as opposed to a regular one, which becomes invalid if you, as the principal, become incapacitated.
How Does Power of Attorney Influence Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process whereby you designate and arrange how you would like your assets to be distributed once you die. This is not only inclusive of your physical and monetary assets but additional assets you may incur through policies such as life insurance. Careful and concise estate planning should also make arrangements for how you would like to be cared for should you become disabled, or how dependents such as your children and/or partner, are to be provided for, in the form of guardianship (if your children are minors) and from your remaining assets.
Estate planning can be an emotional affair and it will undoubtedly be an emotional time should your estate planning need to come into effect. Making an experienced lawyer your power of attorney is highly recommended when undergoing any estate planning.
It’s a wise idea to draft your last will and testament with an experienced lawyer who can also prepare a Durable power of attorney for you. Not only can this ensure that your wishes are obeyed should you die, in which case your Last Will and Testament will control or become incapacitated, in which case your durable POA will control until your death.
The Law Offices of Gary I. Handin, P.A., are not only experienced in the matters of estate planning but they are also committed to helping clients make all the necessary provisions for themselves and their loved ones.