Continuing Power of Attorney
What is it and why do you need one?
1. What is a Power of Attorney for Property?
A Continuing Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you grant another person or persons the legal authority to make decisions in relation to your finances and property on your behalf, should you become incapable to make these decisions yourself.
This power would include paying your debts, collecting money owed to you, maintaining or selling your house or managing your investments.
You may authorize your attorney to do anything in respect to your property that you have the authority to do, except draft a Will. You may also limit the power of your attorney by express provisions, such as restricting what classes of property the attorney can deal with.
2. What is a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?
A General Power of Attorney ceases to operate when the Grantor loses mental capacity. A common use for a General Power of Attorney is to assign a trusted individual to handle your financial matters while you are out of the country.
A Continuing Power of Attorney remains in effect after you lose mental capacity. It is important to have a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and another for Personal Care as part of your estate planning.
A Continuing Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document in which you grant another person or persons the legal authority to make decisions about your personal care, should you become incapable to make these decisions yourself.
“Personal care” encompasses your health care, medical treatment, diet, housing, clothing, hygiene, and safety. Subject to any conditions and restrictions you specify, your attorney may make any decisions in relation to your personal care. It is important to pick an individual that would be prepared to handle the emotional toll that may come with this responsibility.
As part of this power of attorney, many people include their wishes in relation to end-of-life medical care such as whether they wish to be kept alive on life support or whether they wish to donate their organs.
3. Why have a Power of Attorney?
By signing a Power of Attorney while still capable, you have the freedom to select an Attorney(s) you trust to make decisions in your best interests. Without a power of attorney in place at the time of incapacity, the process of selecting a substitute decision maker is time consuming and costly.
4. What is included in a Power of Attorney?
In addition to selecting the individual(s) you grant power to, you may expressly outline your particular instructions or restrict what the Attorney is able to do on your behalf.
You may also wish to indicate when the Power of Attorney can be exercised. For example, it may be a requirement that an attending physician AND a licensed psychologist must determine you are incapable of managing your own affairs before the Power of Attorney can come into effect.