Power of Attorney
With a Power of Attorney, a person (called the principal) can select in advance who he or she would like to act on his or her behalf in case that individual is unable to make decisions for themselves. That person is called the agent or attorney-in-fact.
There are two very different documents dealing with different situations:
- Financial: typically called a Power of Attorney
- Health Care: Health Care Power of Attorney or also known as a Health Care Proxy
One can appoint a single person to make both financial and medical decisions on his or her behalf; however, it is often wise to choose different individuals if possible.
What you can do with Power of Attorney
The appointed agent can have narrow or broad powers when it comes to Powers of Attorney. It depends on how your Power of Attorney is written. Note that there are often different descriptors of Powers of Attorney including a General Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney, Special or Limited Power of Attorney, Springing Durable Power of Attorney. See the Gentreo definitions for more information.
General examples of the decisions that might be made using the Power of Attorney:
- Access financial accounts, i.e. to pay for the housing needs, healthcare and other bills
- File taxes on your behalf
- Make decisions related to investments
- Pay and collect debts
- Maintenance of your property
- Apply for public benefits
- The type of care and treatment you receive, also dependent on financial status
- Select care providers and doctors assigned
- Where you live, also dependent on financial status
- Who will take care of you and even down to what you will eat
What One Cannot Do with Power of Attorney
In general, Power of Attorney documents there typically are no limitations because the agent will get control over the financial or medical decisions. However, there are some things the agent cannot do.
One of the most important rules that agent has to follow is that they have to act in the best interest of the principal.
Examples of things an agent cannot do on behalf of the principal:
- Change the principal’s Will
- Not act in the best interest of the principal regarding any fiduciary duty
- Make any decisions after the death of principal. (This can only happen if the agent has been named as executor on the Will or the principal dies without any will, then the agent can petition to become the administrator of the estate, but must be named such by the court.)
- Transfer or change Power of Attorney to someone else (delegation may be possible depending on your state)
Naming a Power of Attorney for both finances and health care is an important step in assuring that decisions you would like made are made by people you know instead of the courts. In all instances, make your agent someone you know well and trust. Once your documents have been completed and properly executed, save the documents in your Gentreo Digital Vault so they are easily accessible day or night.
For more information, visit us at Gentreo.com. We provide a simple and affordable way to create a heath and estate family plan.
Gentreo is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm, or attorney, or an attorney’s advice or recommendations.