When individuals begin estate planning, it is crucial that they establish the powers of attorney. These documents are provided under estate laws in California and designed for a variety of purposes. Because there are several types of powers of attorney (POA) documents available, it is crucial to understand how each one functions. One or more of these documents may be a good idea to include in your estate plan.
What is a “Power of Attorney?”
A power of attorney is a legal document that specifically designates a person to perform various duties on your behalf. These documents provide specific individuals with the permission and authority to make decisions regarding aspects of your life in the event that you are not able to make the decisions for yourself. These documents are also used to hand over control of various aspects of your life to friends or family members as designated by you.
Providing another person with a power of attorney gives them the ability to make decisions for you. These documents authorize specific individuals to act on your behalf either generally or by adhering to specific conditions.
An individual must complete the power of attorney document personally to give the power to another person. These documents may need to be notarized or they may have to go through an authentication process. Before establishing a power of attorney, it is crucial that you understand the various options available.
Types of Powers of Attorney
There are several types of powers of attorney available to choose from, depending on what specifically you need to designate a person to do for you. In some cases, the categories of powers of attorney overlap, providing individuals with the ability to perform multiple functions. Some types of powers of attorney include:
- General Power of Attorney: This type of POA is the most extensive option. It provides an agent with the broad authority to make decisions and to take actions on your behalf. These POAs are typically used in cases where you become incapacitated.
- Limited/Special Power of Attorney: These documents are applicable to very specific aspects of your life. For instance, you can provide someone with the power to manage your property while you are out of the country. These documents can be limited to a specific scope and time.
- Durable Power of Attorney: These documents are typically valid only when you have mental capacity. Durable POAs may still be active if you lose your mental capacity. However, they can remain in effect or they can become active when you are no longer able to tend to your own affairs.
- Springing Power of Attorney: These documents specify certain conditions that must be met before the designated status kicks in. For example, the power is not transferred to the designated party until you lose mental capacity.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: These documents give someone the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in cases where you become disabled due to an illness or an accident. These individuals can determine if surgery can be performed or if they should remove you from life support.