A Power of Attorney is a legal instrument that delegates an individual’s legal authority to another person. If an individual is incapacitated or mentally incompetent, the POA assigns a trusted party to make decisions on his or her behalf. It’s hard to argue that anyone does not need a power of attorney. Here’s what you need to know about putting a power of attorney in place.
Many Power of Attorney documents are “durable.” The word “durable” means the Power of Attorney will still be effective even if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney must state that “this Power of Attorney shall not be affected by the subsequent disability or incompetence of the principal” or similar words. The powers you give to your attorney-in-fact will remain effective even though you are unable to give your agent instructions. Without these special words, your agent will not be able to use the Power of Attorney when you are unable to manage your own affairs, which is when most people want it to be used.
When you give someone a Power of Attorney, you still have the right to control your money and property. However, you are giving your attorney-in-fact the ability to access your money. Your agent is not supposed to take or use your money without your permission, but there is a risk that a dishonest or unscrupulous agent might steal your money. It is therefore very important to choose an agent you trust.
Such a legal document can help you protect your right to make medical choices that influence your life and the lives of your loved ones. It can protect your family from the stress and responsibility of having to make difficult choices about your medical care. It can even help your physician by providing specific guidelines for your care. If you would like more information about establishing a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, talk to your physician, attorney, or other appropriate person.