Power of attorney refers to a legal document that allows someone to act for you – whether out of convenience or out of necessity. For example, if you have to be out of town and are not available to sign official documents, having a power of attorney in place can be extremely convenient. If you become incapacitated – on the other hand – having a power of attorney set up is a necessity if you want your wishes to be upheld.
While you can obtain a power of attorney form from an attorney or can even create your own, one of the most straightforward and secure options is turning to a well-established online estate planning company that walks you through the process and safely stores your document online – ensuring that it’s always available when needed.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that passes the authority for someone else to act on your behalf and by your wishes in specific situations. When you create a power of attorney, you become the principal, and the person to whom you assign power of attorney becomes the agent or the attorney-in-fact. However, it’s important to know that your agent – or attorney-in-fact – need not be an attorney.
Having a POA in place allows you to privately appoint a decision-maker to step in when you cannot. Failure to address the matter of a POA means that a family member or friend may have to ask the court to assign a guardian for you – in the event you are incapacitated – which is a far more elaborate, costly, and public endeavor.
The most common types of powers of attorney break down into five basic categories.
A durable power of attorney is very useful for estate planning purposes. If you – at any point – are unable to make decisions on your behalf, your durable POA can step in and do so for you. In such a situation, your durable POA will make decisions on your behalf that are by your wishes – regarding your health care, your finances, or both.
A non-durable POA can help you address specific financial matters without you having to be involved in each decision that’s made. For example, you might create a non-durable power of attorney for a financial manager or stockbroker – allowing them to make financial decisions in a specific situation or on a day-to-day basis on your behalf.
When you execute a traditional POA, it goes into effect immediately – granting the named agent the authority to exercise the specific powers you assign, which works well in business situations. A springing POA, on the other hand, grants the agent the authority to act only when a specific condition is met, such as if you’re incapacitated and unable to act on your behalf. At this point, your POA will spring into effect.
A general POA authorizes your agent to act on your behalf in all situations that are allowed in your state, including those related to health, financial, and business concerns. A general POA can be either durable or non-durable, but there are limitations on their authority. For example, a general POA can’t modify your will.
A financial POA is a form of limited POA that grants your agent the power to act on your behalf about specific financial subject matters that you assign. For example, you may give financial power of attorney to someone whom you’ve chosen to manage your property.
A medical or healthcare POA grants your agent the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf and by your wishes if you’re unable to do so.
Your agent has the power to act only when the legally binding POA you create assigns them the authority to do so. For example, a durable financial POA allows your agent to act on behalf of specific financial matters on an ongoing basis. If you’re going to be out of the country but need to take care of financial business, on the other hand, a non-durable POA will do the trick. A springing POA grants the power to act only when the specifications you include are met. The kind of POA you create and the specifications you include dictate when your agent has the power to act.
Once you’ve created the POA documents that are right for you and that reflect your wishes, it’s time to finalize the matter. This generally involves signing the document in the presence of two witnesses – who also sign – and having a power of attorney notarized.
When it comes to obtaining power of attorney forms, you have options, including:
One of the surest and most streamlined methods of obtaining POA forms and executing them is with an online estate planning company like TrustHandled that offers easy-to-follow instructions and guidance as well as secure storage that ensures your estate planning tools, including your POA, can be readily accessed when they’re needed.
TrustHandled offers a full suite of estate planning tools that include power of attorney forms. In addition, we offer clear instructions and guidance along with secure online storage that will bolster your peace of mind –without the hassle or expense associated with hiring an estate planning attorney. Learn more about how we can help you set up the kind of POA that makes sense for you by reaching out and contacting us today.