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Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney (POA) is a straightforward legal status to create and implement, but it can be vital if something unexpected occurs.  Every person over the age of 18 should have a POA designated in case of an emergency.  Moreover, a POA is very important to ensure the care and safety of special needs individuals or anyone else who cannot make decisions on their own behalf.  A dedicated estate planning attorney at Blasser Law can help you understand the function of a POA and establish a legal POA on behalf of yourself or another loved one who lacks capacity.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney, or attorney-in-fact, is a legal document that formally permits another person to make choices in your name.  POA can come in different forms, such that different POAs have different powers.  Despite the name, a POA does not need to be a lawyer; it is merely someone whom you grant certain decision-making powers.  You might, for example, give a financial advisor the ability to buy and sell stock on your behalf.  For estate planning, meaning to protect your financial future and healthcare decision making, the most crucial type of POA is a durable power of attorney.

A durable POA exists specifically to allow your POA to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated as a result of injury, illness, or disability.  While a regular POA allows someone to make certain decisions on your behalf while you are still capable of making decisions, a durable POA takes over when you lack the capacity.  If you are rendered unconscious, mentally infirm, or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes coherently, a durable POA exists to make decisions regarding your healthcare, your finances, and other critical legal matters on your behalf.  You can specify a specific person to have a POA for financial matters and another to have POA for health care, or have one person fill both functions.

A durable POA can save your life if you are rendered incapable of making your own medical decisions.  From an estate planning perspective, a durable POA can manage your finances while you are unable to do so and can ensure that your family is well-cared-for.

Creating a Power of Attorney in California

Having control of your decision-making when you are incapacitated is a considerable power.  For that reason, there are a few essential steps that must be followed to create a valid POA.  An estate planning attorney at Blasser Law can help you draft and effectuate a proper, comprehensive, and legally-enforceable durable power of attorney.

First, both adults (the principal and the attorney-in-fact/agent) must be of sound mind at the time the POA is created.  Second, the parties must sign a power of attorney document before a notary public or in front of several witnesses of sound mind who are able to give sworn testimony.  The witness or notary must be a third party, someone who is not the attorney-in-fact, health care provider, or anyone else related to giving you medical treatment.

The POA form, found under California’s Probate Code, lets you specify whether the POA will be regular or durable, whether it will take effect immediately or upon incapacitation, and which decisions the POA will have the power to make.  A POA is an essential part of any estate plan.

How Does a Power of Attorney Work in California?

A POA can make a variety of decisions on your behalf.  Depending on the scope of the POA, your agent can, for example:

  • Buy or sell property in your name
  • Communicate with your healthcare providers and make life-saving healthcare decisions on your behalf
  • File tax returns
  • Provide for the care of your children
  • Manage your bank accounts
  • Enter into contracts
  • Make end-of-life decisions, where necessary

POA can be revoked at any time, so long as you have the capacity to make that decision.  Revoking a POA requires taking a couple of formal steps, just like establishing a POA.  A seasoned California estate planning attorney can help you create one or more POAs as necessary to ensure that your affairs are taken care of in the event of your incapacity.

Comprehensive Estate Planning Attorneys for Powers of Attorney and More in Claremont and Los Angeles County

Get help choosing, establishing, and managing powers of attorney to ensure the welfare of yourself and your loved ones in California by contacting a knowledgeable and compassionate Claremont power of attorney lawyer at Blasser Law at 877-927-2181.

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