One of the most helpful and practical parts of any good estate plan is known as the power of attorney, or POA. You’ve likely heard this term before, especially related to healthcare and finances- the two major areas that this form applies. So, what is the power of attorney and why should you complete this document?
Essentially, the POA is a legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf if you are unable to. This can apply to your financial, legal, and healthcare needs, and you may appoint the same individual to handle all three (like a spouse) or you may appoint separate individuals. Some people assume that they only need to establish a POA if they are very old or critically ill, but it’s simply not true. You can file this safeguard anytime you wish, for your own peace of mind. We cannot always predict what will happen to us, and you will likely feel much better knowing that your affairs will be managed in case of an accident, disability, or serious illness. Keep in mind, the POA can also be enacted even if you’re well, but simply unavailable, like traveling abroad.
In general, there are two types of POAs- general and special/limited. The General Power of Attorney grants a wide range of authority for someone to handle just about everything you might handle yourself, including medical and financial things. A Special or Limited Power of Attorney places more restrictions on your appointed surrogate, so they may only act on your behalf in one area. For example, you may have a separate person to manage your finances and healthcare decisions.
Another thing to consider when creating your POA documents is when the powers will be in effect. Some choose to have a POA in place, only to be enacted after their incapacitation (sometimes called a “springing POA”), while others want a POA in place all the time. A “durable” POA is one that remains in effect even after you are incapacitated. You, as the “principal” of the POA, have the power to revoke it at any time, and it automatically is revoked after you die. Depending on your unique needs and circumstances, one type of POA may be better suited for you.
Establishing a power of attorney can bring you tremendous peace of mind, so make sure you talk with a qualified Eugene estate planning lawyer about your options. Reach out to us at the law office of Megan Amelung today to request your free consultation.