A power of attorney gives written authorization for another person to make decisions on one’s behalf. Typically, an individual names a family member or friend as his or her power of attorney, giving that person the legal authority to make decisions on his or her behalf. The Power of Attorney documents can address financial decisions, medical decisions, or both.
Taking the time to set up power of attorney documents for yourself can help you and your loved ones immensely. While nobody wants to think about becoming incapacitated, creating a power of attorney can spare you and your loved ones anxiety and stress. Power of Attorney documents also allow the individual to make sure his wishes are known and give him or her ability to select the best person for the position.
What Goes into a Powers of Attorney Document?
The creators of the powers of attorney document have the ability to make the document as limited or broad as they choose. The appointed representative is called the attorney-in-fact. For example, an individual might only give the appointed representative power to make financial decisions. Alternatively, an individual may limit the decision-making ability of the power of attorney to medical decisions. Even still, the individual can limit the decision-making abilities to only certain medical decisions and not others.
Limited Power of Attorney
In a limited power of attorney, the attorney-in-fact can exercise limited authority in a particular type of transaction. For example, if someone wants to purchase property in another state, he or she could create a power of attorney document appointing another person to sign the legal documents in order to purchase the property. In this type of power of attorney document, the agreement terminates when the transaction is complete. Thus, the power of attorney would immediately terminate after the attorney-in-fact signs the real estate paperwork as specified in the document.
Durable Power of Attorney
The durable power attorney gives the attorney-in-fact much more power than in a limited power of attorney. A durable power of attorney can give the attorney-in-fact extensive power in a certain area of the creator’s affairs. A well written durable power of attorney will lay out the powers given to the attorney-in-fact. A durable power of attorney does not automatically terminate after a single transaction. The creator of the power of attorney has a right to revoke a durable power of attorney at any time. Durable powers of attorney can come into effect immediately and stay in effect after the creator becomes incapacitated.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney is quite similar to a durable power of attorney, with one important difference. In a springing power of attorney, the power only takes place when a particular event happens. For example, a springing power of attorney might only come into effect when the principal becomes incapacitated.
Springing power of attorneys can be advantageous when the creator of the power of attorney does not want the power to take effect immediately. Typically, springing power of attorney documents include a phrase such as “This power of attorney shall become effective upon the principal’s incapacity,” or something similar.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney is a type of power of attorney that gives the principle-in-fact, or representative, broad authority to make decisions. The attorney-in-fact can make decisions regarding every type of legal matter with the exception of making health care decisions. A general power of attorney is sometimes referred to as a financial power of attorney.
What are the Elements of a Legally Valid California Power of Attorney?
The California Probate Code requires that the principal or creator of the power of attorney document have legal capacity. The law requires that the principal be of sound mind and age 18 or older when he or she created the power of attorney document. The principal must sign the power of attorney document before a notary public or before two witnesses.
If the principal is authorizing a power of attorney to handle his or her real estate matters, he or she should notarize the document to make it available for recording. Witnesses who signed the power of attorney document can be anyone except the agent or your healthcare provider. Residential care facilities and community health care facilities are considered health care providers in regards to signing the documents.
Power of attorney documents are effective immediately unless the document specifies otherwise. Many California residents include language stating that the power of attorney will become effective upon the incapacity of the principal. Usually, this type of language is included in the SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS portion of the form.
In California, power of attorney forms are automatically considered durable power of attorney documents unless the principle crosses out the sentence stating that the power of attorney will continue even though he or she becomes incapacitated.
When is a Power of Attorney Beneficial?
Creating a power of attorney is helpful in a wide variety of situations and circumstances, such as the following:
- An elderly man lives by himself with no close friends or family. He is having a risky but necessary surgery in a few weeks
- A woman has been diagnosed with a disease that will progressively decrease her ability to care for herself over time
- A married couple will be in another country for nine months but need to sell their house in the United States
- A service member is the parent of young children and will be deployed for a year
- A man runs a small business is a sole proprietor, and has no economic or medical concerns
Our Sacramento, California, Lawyers can Help
If you are interested in drafting a power of attorney document, our attorneys can help. At the Law Offices of Daniel A. Hunt, we place a high priority on offering our clients friendly, responsible, and knowledgeable legal advice. We can provide legal counsel as to the best type of power of attorney for you and your loved ones. Contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.