If You Have Power Of Attorney You Can Protect The Wishes Of Your Elders
A Power of Attorney is a written authorization to act on someone else’s behalf in a legal or business matter. The Principal is that person who creates the document and has the right to revoke or cancel it at any time. The Principal gives authority to another adult, the Attorney-in-Fact or Agent, in the document. The Attorney-in-Fact need not be a lawyer, but must be a competent adult. It is not a court or government form and courts are not typically involved with Powers of Attorney. You may find the State of Minnesota Power Of Attorney information useful.
Power Of Attorney Varies By State Law
Typically, laws of the state in which you reside at the time you sign a Power of Attorney govern the powers and scope of the Agent under that document. It’s valid when you sign and it will remain valid even if you change state of residence.
General Power Of Attorney
General Powers of Attorney are very broad and provide extensive powers to your Agent, including:
- Bank transactions;
- U.S. securities Transactions;
- Settling claims;
- Contractual obligations;
- Buying, managing and selling real estate;
- Government benefits; and
- Maintaining and operating business.
Why would you grant such sweeping authority to another person? In a word: convenience. If you do not wish to appear in person to close a transaction, Powers of Attorney may be convenient. You may also prepare for situations when you’re not able to act on your own behalf due to absence or incapacity. Perhaps you’ll be traveling or you want to be prepared for an illness or accident. Such a disability may be temporary or permanent.
Limited Power Of Attorney
A Limited Power of Attorney allows you to assign only specific powers to your Agent. It is often used to handle specific situations for you when you are unavailable or unable to do them yourself. You can authorize somebody to sell a car or sell your house for you while you’re out of the country.
Durable Power Of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is a General, Limited or Health Care Power of Attorney including special durability provisions. If you can no longer decide for yourself while it is already in effect, the durability provision allows the document to remain in effect. Today in Minnesota most powers of attorney are durable. It remains important, however, to understand the duration of the powers you assign on your behalf.
Health Care Directive
In most places the Health Care Power of Attorney is replaced by the Health Care Directive. A Health Care Directive allows you to designate who will have the authority to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to do so. The person receiving this power on your behalf is called the health care agent. Your health care agent will carry out your goals, values and preferences about your health care. Under Minnesota law you can consolidate your living will, durable power of attorney and health care directive into one document containing all of your health care instructions.
Guardianship Or Power Of Attorney?
If you become incapacitated, unable to make your own decisions and you need somebody to make decisions for you, a court may intervene and order a legal Guardianship or Conservatorship for you. If you have not assigned Power of Attorney and become unable to manage your affairs, a court may appoint one or more people to act for you, referred to as guardians or conservators. You may not have the ability to choose the person who will act for you.
Who grants such authority to another person? It’s not just about convenience. Prepare for situations when you’re not able to act on your own behalf. How can you know when illness or accident or frailties of old age will occur? Such a disability may be temporary or it may be permanent. It’s up to you to choose who will act on your behalf and you define their authority and limits. A qualified attorney will advise you for your particular situation.