What you don’t know about Power of Attorney laws

A Power of Attorney or POA is a legal document that allows another person to act on your behalf. In this type of legal relationship, you are the “principal” and the person you appoint is the “agent”. A POA can be very useful to both you and your family in the event that you were unable to handle your own affairs due to an illness, accident, disability, or even an absence.

There are pros and cons to POAs. Some advantages are that:

  • Establishing a POA is relatively inexpensive
  • You or your loved one can decide who shall be the agent
  • You or your loved one has control on whether the agent has broad or limited powers
  • The document can require the agent to become bonded or to give an account of all of his or her transactions

The disadvantages are:

  • The agent could abuse the powers given to him or her if they’re too broad
  • The agent may turn out to be untrustworthy
  • The competence of you or your loved one at the time that the POA was established could be called into question at a later date

Many individuals, especially those that are acting as caregivers of elderly adults, have misconceptions about POA’s. Therefore, it’s important to get all of the facts about POAs, including the different types, their duration, and the rules governing them.

Misconceptions about POA

One of the misconceptions about POAs concerns the different types of power of attorney. There are two general types of POA documents: the regular power of attorney and the durable power of attorney. The rules governing these two documents are different in that a regular POA ends when its purpose has been fulfilled, if you should die, or become incapacitated.

In the case of a durable power of attorney, the document must be put into place before you need it. A durable POA for health care will help, for example, should you become incapacitated and are unable to tell your physician what kind of medical care you want to receive. One for asset management gives your agent the power to make necessary financial decisions on your behalf. A durable POA ends upon your death.

Working with legal experts

It’s in your best interests to secure the services of an attorney for a Durable Power of Attorney in order to get legal advice about choosing a suitable person to act as your agent, the powers being granted to your agent, and to ensure that all of your documents meet all legal requirements.

Once you have completed the necessary documents, the original needs the appropriate signatures and notarizations, and you must certify several copies.

At the San Diego Law Office of David W. Foley, we can take stock of your particular situation and then draw up a POA to fit it. If you have a living trust as well, upon your death your successor trustee will be in charge of administering the trust according to your wishes.

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