Understanding the Different Types of Powers of Attorney in California
Creating a power of attorney is one of the most important and effective parts of your estate plan. Caring for a loved one often requires taking on their appointments, managing their medication, helping them finish their household chores, and helping them pay their bills. If you are a caretaker to an elderly parent or friend, obtaining a power of attorney will make it easier for you to help your loved one manage his or her affairs. Similarly, it is important to create your power of attorney so that your loved ones can help you manage your affairs if you become incapacitated.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney is the most comprehensive type of power of attorney available. A general power of attorney allows you to appoint someone as your attorney-in-fact. Your attorney-in-fact will have all of the rights and powers that you have yourself. When you create a general power of attorney, your attorney-in-fact has the right to sign legal documents on your behalf, pay all of your bills, and engage in financial transactions on your behalf.
A general power of attorney documents can be useful even when a person is not incapacitated but still need help with completing important financial matters. The power awarded in a general power of attorney stops upon your death or incapacitation unless you decide to rescind it before then. In other words, your general power of attorney is not permanent. If you decide that you would like to rescind it, you can. If you decide that you no longer want the person you appointed to act as your attorney-in-fact, you can create a new general power of attorney and appoint another person.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney can be limited in scope or general. However, it will remain in effect after you become incapacitated. If you are concerned about who will make decisions for you if you become incapacitated, creating a durable power of attorney will meet that need. With a general power of attorney, you are appointed attorney-in-fact will not have any power to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. By creating a durable power of attorney, you will make sure your power of attorney can make decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so.
If you become incapacitated, none of your loved ones will be able to make decisions on your behalf until they petition a court to appoint a guardian or conservator for you. This can be a time-consuming and complicated process. If you are experiencing an emergency medical condition and you cannot communicate with your doctor, you do not want your loved ones to have to wait for the court to grant them the authority to make decisions for you. By completing a durable power of attorney, you will give a trusted left one or family member the ability to immediately make decisions on your behalf as soon as the doctor declares you to be capacitated.
Special or Limited Power of Attorney
A limited power of attorney allows your appointed attorney-in-fact to make decisions for you for very limited purposes. For example, if you are out of town and you need someone to sign a deed for a property on your behalf, you can create a limited power of attorney. Your power of attorney will only have the authority to sign that particular on the day you choose.
The power of attorney will end at the time you designate in the document. Limited powers of attorney do not give the attorney-in-fact the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf outside of the narrow scope stated in the document. As a result, if you would like someone to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated, you should create a durable power of attorney.
Springing Durable Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney is similar to a durable power of attorney. For example, like a durable power of attorney, a springing power of attorney allows your attorney-in-fact to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Unlike a general power of attorney, a springing power of attorney does not become effective until you are incapacitated. In other words, the springing power of attorney springs to action when you become incapacitated.
The Benefits of Making a Power of Attorney as Soon as Possible
Many of us put off estate planning because we are busy and do not want to devote time thinking about what could happen in the future. It is always difficult to consider what would happen if we become incapacitated and need help in managing our affairs. However, taking the time to discuss your goals with your loved ones and making your wishes known is important.
An emergency can happen to anyone at any time. Sadly, we have worked with families in which the incapacitated loved ones did not have a power of attorney. The families face tremendous obstacles when making financial and medical decisions on behalf of their loved ones. By creating a power of attorney now, you can make sure your loved ones have the legal authority to make decisions for you quickly when necessary.
Contact a Sacramento Estate Planning Lawyer Today
At the Law Office of Daniel Hunt, we have helped many estate planners and caretakers create effective powers of attorney. Whether your loved one is incapacitated and you are a caretaker who needs a power of attorney, or you would like to create a power of attorney as part of your estate plan, we are here to help. We can help you understand the different types of power of attorney documents and select the type that works best for your needs. Contact our Sacramento estate planning law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.
Daniel Hunt is lead attorney and owner at Law Offices of Daniel Hunt. He is also a California State Bar Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trusts & Probate Law.