Power of Attorney Lawyers in Phoenix
You may have heard the term “power of attorney”, but do you really know what is means? Read on to find on what a power of attorney is, and why you need one.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney allows you to appoint a person or entity, often called your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent” to act in your place for specific reasons if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so.
Creating a power of attorney does not mean you are signing your powers away, instead it is enabling you to continue to make decisions (via an agent).
There are Different Types of Power of Attorney
“Power of attorney” can seem like a bit of a blanket term, but the truth is there are a variety of types:
- General Power of Attorney: This is the broadest type. So broad, in fact, that it usually allows your attorney-in-fact to make any decisions or actions that you yourself could make.
- Special Power of Attorney: This is a more specific type. It states exactly what the attorney-in-fact can do, and nothing more. This type of power of attorney is often used when someone is unable to handle a specific affair due to other commitments or health reasons.
- Health Care Power of Attorney: this document will grant your attorney-in-fact the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf. A lawyer might recommend both financial and medical power of attorney documents.
- Durable Power of Attorney: Like a general or special power of attorney, this document allows for your attorney-in-fact to make financial decisions on your behalf. However, it also has a durability provision which provides that if, upon the evaluation of a medical doctor, you are deemed mentally incompetent, the power of attorney will remain valid. Often, you’ll see the general and durable combined into one “General Durable Power of Attorney.”
No matter what, an attorney-in-fact will never have carte balance to do what they want with you and your assets. Whoever is acting on your behalf will still have fiduciary obligations. Put simply, just because they have the power doesn’t mean they have the right.
How Do I Make a Power of Attorney?
Our lawyers can talk you through the steps of creating a power of attorney. Since the concept of a power of attorney is not on the minds of most people day to day, it is best to hire a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. The names of lawyers in your state who have passed the bar exam are public information, so with a bit of research, you can confirm that the person creating your estate plan is a bar-certified lawyer.
While there certainly are other options for creating an estate plan without a lawyer, like DIY forms you can purchase from websites, no standard template can substitute for an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer.
What Happens After I Die?
All power of attorney documents will terminate upon death. It is important to have a will or trust in place, so your loved ones don’t have to deal with the hassle of probating your estate. A lawyer might recommend you create an entire estate plan, which will often include a will and power of attorney, among other important documents:
Last Will & Testament
Your last will and testament is a legal document that allows you to clearly communicate your end of life wishes for your assets and your family members.
A complete last will and testament should clearly outline the following:
- The executor or personal representative: The people you appoint to carry out the provisions of your will upon your death
- The beneficiaries: The people who will be inheriting your assets
- Instructions for how and when to distribute the assets
- Guardians for minor children: The people you wish to legally care for your minor children if you become incapacitated or pass away
General Durable Power of Attorney
Any competent lawyer will probably include a financial power of attorney. This document allows you to appoint a representative to manage your finances, should be unable to do so for yourself.
- Healthcare power of attorney: This document allows you to appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to do so for yourself.
- Living will: In this document, you can specifically outline any healthcare services you wish to receive, or perhaps more importantly, those you DO NOT wish to receive.
- HIPPA authorization: This document allows you to name an individual who can have access to your medical information so that your health care provider or insurance company have no reservations about sharing your protected medical information with them.
If you have a lot of assets, a lawyer may suggest you create a living trust. A living trust is an entity created during the grantor’s lifetime to hold and manage assets. There are many advantages in creating a trust, including avoiding probate.
You work hard for your money and for your family. Creating a power of attorney allows you to make sure both are properly cared for in the event that you are incapacitated.
If you’ve been thinking about creating a power of attorney, contact Kamper & Estrada, PLLC for a free initial consultation.