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Do I need A Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney, often referred to as a POA, is a legal document. It designates a specific person to manage your financial affairs. The person(s) you designate is called an agent. If due to advanced age, illness or accident, you become incapacitated and no longer able to control your financial affairs the agent can act on your behalf.

An example of decisions that your power of attorney can make are

  • Make financial decisions
  • Make gifts of money
  • Make health care decisions, including the ability to consent to giving, withholding, or stopping medical treatments, services, or diagnostic procedures. (Note: your loved one can also make a separate “health care power of attorney” to give only this power to an individual.)

In order to prepare a power of attorney, you need to choose who you will want to take on that important responsibility. It is also recommended that a backup power of attorney be named. The person you chose to be your power of attorney can be a spouse, adult child, other relative, or a good friend. It should be someone you can trust. Someone reliable, dependable, and ideally, should live close by. Your power of attorney is not regulated by the Court, so it should be a person who will not misuse their power.

If you do not have a power of attorney document and you are found to be incompetent, a guardianship may be needed. This can cost a large amount of money and you no longer get to decide who will be appointed to make your decisions. Instead, the Court is in charge of who will be making your decisions. The Judge may appoint the petitioner who has petitioned to be the guardian or a professional guardian to make your financial decisions.

An Estate planning attorney can make sure your documents are done correctly and your legal wishes are honored.

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