Any estate planning attorney will answer that question with an emphatic yes. Pose the same question to someone involved in decision-making for an incapacitated family member. They’ll give you the same answer. Life is full of unpleasant surprises. One day you are hale and hearty, the next incapacitated, incapable of making decisions that affect your health and finances. You need an agent to speak for you. Someone you can trust. That someone will need a signed and witnessed power of attorney to do it. Without it, decisions may fall to others who do not know or particularly care about your wishes. The prospect is grim.
4 Types of Power of Attorney
- A Conventional POA (limited power of attorney) begins when signed and remains in force when you become mentally unable to make coherent decisions. The document lists the boundaries of the agent’s authority. It also gives discretionary power over money management, investments, and the sale of a property. A broader range of financial power might include access to bank accounts and other financial vehicles. The later authority falls into the category of “general power of attorney.”
- A Durable POA begins when it is signed but stays in effect for a lifetime unless canceled by you. Words in the document must specify that your agent’s power is valid before and after you become incapacitated. Durable POAs are popular because your agent can manage affairs inexpensively without a lot of legal red tape.
- A Springing POA becomes triggered by a specific event. The event is most often your mental or physical incapacitation. A Springing Power of Attorney is crafted to avoid any problems in identifying precisely when the triggering event has occurred. For example, a person diagnosed with a mentally debilitating condition is likely to worsen. The wording in the POA describes mental limitations, their severity, and their effect on competency.
- A Medical POA is a durable power of attorney over healthcare decisions. It is coupled with a “living will” detailing the limits of life-preserving procedures. The springing aspect takes effect when life-preserving limitations as described in the “living will” are reached. As long as the principal is conscious, and of sound mind and body, the medical POA will not be triggered. A Medical POAs expire when the principal has recovered.
Selecting an Agent
The person you choose as your agent must be someone you trust. Remember, depending on how you’ve worded your POA, the person can make life and death decisions about your health and financial decisions about your home, business affairs, personal property, and financial accounts. You can have different POAs for different situations and appoint various agents to hold them. Bear in mind that agents may have conflicting views on decisions.
Contact our Offices Today!
At The Voeller Law Firm, we respect your wishes and draw up powers of attorney that precisely reflect them. Our wealth of experience offers invaluable guidance in preparing one of the most documents you will ever sign. Call now for a free consultation. The Voeller Law Firm, located at 19311, FM 2252, Suite 103, San Antonio, Texas 78266. (210) 651-3851.