If you are unable to make legal decisions for yourself, speak with a family lawyer to assign a power of attorney (POA). A POA is a legal document that gives another individual the right to act on your behalf. This individual must be over the age of 18 to manage your property and over the age of 16 to manage your personal care. There are many details that need to be carefully hashed out in the document – particularly these 3 aspects.
Type of Power Assigned
Once the POA is signed and finalized, the individual you have assigned with the POA will have legal rights to act on your behalf. The amount of power and control given to this individual is entirely up to your needs and preferences. The three types of power are
- General power, which gives the assigned individual almost absolute control over all of your personal affairs
- Special power, which limits and restricts the amount of control given
- Health care power, which allows the assigned individual to only make decisions on health-related matters.
Details Surrounding Time of Validity
A POA does not necessarily give the assigned individual the rights to act on your behalf forever. Speak with a family attorney regarding when the POA becomes valid. For example, the POA should define when you are deemed mentally incompetent to handle your own affairs. In addition, the length of time when the POA is valid also needs to be carefully defined. Based on the circumstances surrounding why a POA is needed, a family lawyer is responsible for advising you on what an appropriate and sufficient duration may be.
Specific Provisions Regarding Changed Circumstances
Not everything goes to plan, and it's important to plan for the unexpected. The POA needs to be clear and detailed. The family lawyer can help you determine whether any specific provisions are required to ensure your wishes are kept even when circumstances change. For example, you may want to include a provision regarding whether the type of power assigned to the chosen individual may change if your mental health continues to deteriorate.
Assigning a POA makes it extremely clear who becomes responsible for managing various aspects of your personal affairs and avoids future legal complications. Once you have considered the details that need to be included, a family lawyer like Tracy McMurtrie Luck & Associates will read over the POA to remove ambiguities. Ambiguities make the document vulnerable to being challenged in court.