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What is Power of Attorney?

Whether you become incapacitated due to a serious illness, or are undergoing surgery, you want to make sure that someone you trust is in charge of your affairs. Power of attorney is a legal designation that allows a person you assign to handle your decisions and finances if you are unable to do so because of physical or mental incapacity. It is helpful to understand the types of power of attorneys (POA) so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

Types of Power of Attorney

There are several main types of power of attorney. Each has a particular function.

  • General Power of Attorney
  • Special Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Durable Power of Attorney

A general power of attorney gives your agent the ability to act on your behalf to handle all of your business transactions, financial affairs, claims, business interests, and more. You may use a general POA when you are going to be out of the country for an extended period of time and need someone to take care of your financial matters while you are away.

A special POA is similar to a general POA, but you can specify specific matters that the agent is allowed to handle. One example of the use of a special POA might be when you want to designate someone to sell your property. A health care POA authorizes your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Durable power of attorney grants the powers of the agent in effect if you are incompetent due to illness or injury. You can add a durability provision to a general, special, or health POA.

Choose Someone to Manage Your Affairs

You must appoint a person or business to handle your financial, real estate, or business affairs. The designated person is known as your agent or attorney-in-fact. It is essential to discuss the matter with the person you intend to designate. Your agent should understand your finances Provide your agent with details regarding your wishes in case a sudden situation arises. It is a good idea to designate a person now, before it is necessary. You may also choose to put a POA in place for a temporary and immediate need. For instance, if you are going to go to the hospital for surgery, it is a good idea to designate someone as your agent in case a problem occurs. Once you are through surgery and recovering, the person is no longer in charge of your affairs.

It is best to get a power of attorney drafted by an experienced attorney. Your lawyer will ensure that the document includes everything necessary and that it is completely legal. You do not want to use a template document that may not be reliable to provide you with the protection you need. To learn more about power of attorney documents and to obtain sound legal guidance, contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. for all your legal needs.

Published November 28, 2019
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