A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows someone else to act on your behalf to make decisions regarding your finances and health if you become incapacitated. There are various types of POAs including:
- General POA
When you sign a general POA, it gives the agent the ability to manage your affairs. These could include anything from financial affairs, banking transactions, insurance matters, tax filings, real estate purchases, and investments.
- Limited POA
In a limited POA, the principal authorizes the agent to act on his/her behalf for a specific purpose. Upon executing this POA, it is crucial to remember that the principal does not relinquish control over managing his/her affairs. This POA protects the principal as it can only be used when the principal instructs the agent or in the event the principal becomes incapacitated. The principal can revoke the agent’s authority at any point.
- Healthcare POA
This POA is important to put into place if you would like your healthcare needs considered in the event you become ill or incapacitated. You can include what types of medical treatments you want to receive as well as what types of treatments you do not want.
- Durable POA
In this POA, you appoint an agent to make decisions on your behalf related to financial, medical, and legal matters. A durable POA is effective until the principal dies or revokes the power you granted to your agent.
Why Is it Important to Have a Power of Attorney?
A POA gives you more control over your future. You can appoint an agent to act for you in the event of an accident or illness and determine how much authority that individual will have over your affairs. A POA can also prevent family disputes as well as detail who is permitted to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself.
If you do not have a POA in place and cannot manage your affairs, the court will appoint someone on your behalf. In Pennsylvania, this person is referred to as your guardian and could be an individual you might not want involved in your personal affairs. Putting a POA in place stops this from ever happening.
A POA gives you the freedom to choose the individual you think is best suited to step in for you in the event you become incapacitated. As such, it is easy to see why this is such an important document.
How to Obtain a Power of Attorney
The first step to obtaining a power of attorney is to consult with an experienced lawyer. You want to ensure that your document is executed in accordance with your state’s laws. Pennsylvania has specific signing and witness requirements that must be met for the POA to be valid.
When creating a POA, be sure to consider any aspects of your life you may need assistance with should you get sick or become incapacitated. You will also want to be careful about the individual(s) you name as your agent(s).
Be sure to revisit your POA documents regularly as your needs may change. It is recommended to do this every year, or whichever time amount you see fit.
How a Power of Attorney Lawyer Can Provide Support
Putting a POA in place can provide you with peace of mind as it solidifies who will manage your affairs if the need arises. It is a crucial element of your estate plan. Knowing that the agent is someone you chose and not someone chosen by the court will also save you time and expenses should you ever find yourself in a situation like this.
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