Creating a comprehensive estate plan requires crafting various tools, such as a durable power of attorney. Each tool you use will have a specific purpose and will be designed to address different eventualities or possibilities. Durable powers of attorney in California serve a key role in any plan. Here’s what you need to know about durable powers.
Powers of attorney are legal documents. The document create a relationship between you, the principal, and the person or organization you choose to represent your interests, known as your agent or attorney in fact. Most principals use powers of attorney to allow their agents to make either health care or financial decisions on their behalf.
Sometimes, people who first hear about power of attorney documents can get confused because of the terminology involved. A power of attorney does not require you to be a lawyer, or have a license to practice law. These professionals are attorneys at law Powers of attorney simply allow you to appoint someone who will represent your interests. As noted above, this person is referred to as an attorney in fact, or simply, an agent.
The person you appoint does not have to be an attorney, and does not gain the right to practice law once you appoint that person as your attorney-in-fact.
However, you should always speak to an experienced lawyer if you want to create any type of legal document, including a durable power of attorney.
Durable Powers and Agent Authority
Powers of attorney come in different forms. When you appoint an agent, you give the agent the ability to make choices on your behalf. Should you lose your ability to make choices, or lose your ability to revoke the powers, your agent also loses his or her ability to represent you.
However, this automatic termination of authority is not the case with all powers of attorney. When you create a durable power you create a document that gives your agent the ability to act for you even after you are incapacitated. Durable powers, therefore, are especially important if you want to plan ahead for the possibility of one day becoming incapacitated.
General, Financial, and Health Care
It’s possible to create different types of durable power of attorney. Financial powers give the agent the authority to make certain financial decisions on your behalf, while health care durable powers give your agent the ability to make medical decisions when you cannot do so yourself. A general durable power of attorney, on the other hand, gives the broadest possible authority to your agent, and can include both health care and financial authority. General powers give your attorney-in-fact the ability to make almost any decision you can make.
If you’d like more information about durable powers of attorney and how they play a part in your estate plan, you should contact an attorney at law as soon as possible.