While the term “power of attorney” is well-known, not everyone realizes there are variations to this legal document or fully understands the key decisions that need to be made.
Types of Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney can be appointed to an individual or organization, which legally becomes known as the “attorney.” The four specific types of power of attorney include:
- General Power of Attorney – The “attorney” is provided with broad powers in acting on your behalf. This is usually executed when you go out of the country or become physically or mentally incapable of managing affairs on your own.
- Special Power of Attorney – Specific functions are specified should you face health problems or have other commitments
- Healthcare Power of Attorney – The “attorney” will make decisions in the event that you become mentally incompetent, unconscious, or otherwise physically or mentally incapable of making sound decisions.
- Durable Power of Attorney – In this case, the power of attorney is a safeguard in the event that you become mentally incompetent due to an illness or accident while another power of attorney is in place.
Primary Considerations for a Power of Attorney
Being such a powerful legal document, there are distinct considerations that go hand-in-hand with a power of attorney. For starters, this legal document should be drawn up by a reputable lawyer, someone with in-depth knowledge of and expertise in creating the document and overseeing its execution. The lawyer should also offer years of experience practicing in this particular area of law.
With a qualified lawyer, you have the opportunity to lay out specific details regarding how you want personal and/or business transactions handled. In some cases, this document can be complex, which is why the right lawyer will guide you through the entire process to ensure everything is appropriately and legally covered.
You will also have the ability to choose the type of power of attorney based on a number of factors. While all powers of attorney are designed to provide you with protection, there are unique differences. Overall, a power of attorney will give the appointed “attorney” legal authority to make decisions if you were to become ill or injured and no longer capable of managing day-to-day activities on both a personal and business level.
In addition, the individual or corporation that you appoint as the “attorney” needs to be trusted. The “attorney” should fully understand your wishes and be willing and able to handle the responsibility that comes from being an authorized representative on your behalf. Even with an ironclad power of attorney, different aspects of the document could be challenged, so the “attorney” plays a critical role in ensuring your wishes are carried out accordingly.
Although securing a power of attorney may be uncomfortable, it prevents numerous problems if you were to become incapacitated for one reason or another. A prime example: If you were to end up on life support from injuries sustained in an accident, the “attorney” has the authority to stop all life-saving measures if that were your directive. In addition, a power of attorney eliminates the guesswork of family members who might otherwise be faced with making extremely difficult decisions.