Power of attorney (POA) is a document that grants a specific person, called an agent, the authority to make important decisions on behalf of another person, who is called the principal.
There are many different types of powers of attorney. The scope of the authority the principal grants to the agent can be very broad in nature, or very specific. The power of attorney document specifies exactly what that authority looks like. For example, you could give someone the power to make decisions about your:
- Personal property
- Real estate
- Personal and family matters
- Insurances and annuities
- Government benefits
The agent can be granted authority to make just one type of decision, a mix, or all of them; it really boils down to the principal’s needs and wishes.
When it comes to powers of attorney, you have several options for granting others decision-making authority in your life. But keep in mind the power of attorney does not, by itself, adequately address all situations. For example, while giving power of attorney to someone can be useful for to those who want a specific person to be able to make certain decisions, it isn’t a substitute for a living will. If you want to imbue a person with more comprehensive health care authority in the event you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, consider executing a separate healthcare directive, which includes a living will, to meet that need.
The laws governing power of attorney vary from state to state and situation to situation. There is no “one size fits all” power of attorney document, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking a fill in the blank POA is going to properly protect you. Always seek the counsel of a trusted attorney before creating any legal document, to ensure you make informed and empowered decisions, both for yourself and the people you love.
Dedicated to your family’s health, wealth, and happiness,