Probate and Estate Planning

Creating the Legal Power of Attorney

Michael Bailey got the phone call deep into an October Sunday night. His mother called to inform him that his father had slipped and fallen down a flight of stairs at home. Michael needed to meet his mother at the hospital to offer support in one of several power of attorney decisions she had to make.

“It was stressful enough for me, but for my mother, it was unbearable, said Michael.

However, the flip side to invoking power attorney is not to have any say over the life and lifestyle of someone you love. Power of attorney is an essential legal tool that eliminates confusion and more important, carries out the wishes of a loved one who can no longer make critical life decisions

Power of Attorney: Healthcare

The power of attorney for healthcare given to you by a loved one puts you in charge of making important health care decisions for the loved one. Even if a loved one creates a healthcare directive, the person who holds durable power of attorney makes the decisions for every issue not covered in the healthcare directive of a living will. Remember that the person who represents the power of attorney cannot override a loved one’s wishes set forth in the health directive. States call a power of attorney for healthcare different names, including agent, proxy, or attorney-in-fact

The typical rights granted by states to a power of attorney include the following:

  • The power to deny medical treatments
  • The power to demand medical treatments
  • The power to choose medical personnel
  • The power to litigate power of attorney rights, such as the denial of medical services for a loved one suffering from acute pain and disease
  • The power to select the medical facilities for treatment and rehabilitation
  • The power to decide how medical professionals should handle the body of a loved one after death
  • Access to all medical records
  • Visitation

Once again these powers only go into effect if a loved one has not specified his or her preferences in the healthcare directive found in a living will. Most states require a competent adult 18 years of age or older to represent a power of attorney. The word “competent” causes many of the lawsuits filed that concern power of attorney cases. You do not want crazy cousin Joe to call the healthcare shots for you, when you cannot make the decisions on your own.

Power of Attorney: Finances

Long before the health decline of a loved one, he or she might experience a significant diminishing of brain function. This leads to several major issues, with money management at the forefront for family concern. The power of attorney for finances gives you or a loved one control over the finances of a loved one who no longer can make rational financial decisions. The majority of power of attorney for finance cases involves a loved one who suffers from one of the early stages of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. He or she forgets to send bills, as well as misplace important financial documents. As with the healthcare version for the power of attorney, a loved one must clearly state in a living will what exactly the power of attorney can and cannot due in regards to controlling finances.

Power of attorney for finance typically includes ordinary financial matters:

  • Paying bills on time
  • Paying taxes on time
  • Managing real estate assets
  • Paying medical bills on time
  • Having access to every financial account

Other power of attorney for finance obligations can include making investments, purchasing insurance, operating a small business, and recording and securing retirement benefits. These power of attorney for finance obligations should be clearly defined in a living will.

Creating a power attorney requires the help of a licensed attorney who specializes in living wills and power of attorney declarations.

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