Much like a living will, a power of attorney document is designed to address any questions that might arise if you are incapacitated or in some way unable to communicate your wishes. Unlike a living will, however, power of attorney appoints a person to make certain decisions in your place. There are different kinds of power of attorney, each one addressing a specific scenario. The estate planning lawyers at Bellah Perez can help you understand the differences between each form and complete a document specific to your needs.
The power of attorney in Arizona is designed to protect you and your family, to ensure your wishes are still honored in legal, medical, and business matters even when you can’t voice your opinions in the moment. It can be designated as general, granting broad powers over financial, health, legal and other matters, or special, granting authority over specific situations. But put simply, when you create a power of attorney, you essentially give a trusted adult the authority to act on your behalf.
When to Use a Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney
Often used in conjunction with a living will, a durable healthcare power of attorney is used exclusively for medical circumstances. This form of power of attorney authorizes a chosen person to make any necessary healthcare decisions in your stead, especially ones related to paying bills and selecting treatment. It remains in effect, or only becomes effective, if and when you, known as the principal, become disabled or incompetent. For example, this document would become valid in situations like coma or vegetative state.
It’s important to understand that durable healthcare power of attorney only gives the designated representative power over healthcare decisions. Thus, questions dealing with your medical treatment and physical well-being are the only situations left up to the individual with this power. Financial or business decisions cannot be made under the authority of this document.
The Benefits of a Financial Power of Attorney
Just as a healthcare power of attorney only allows a representative control over medical decisions, financial power of attorney can be used to give someone the authority to handle certain financial issues in your absence or if you become incapacitated. The form authorizes the attorney-in-fact to use the principal’s money, property, or other assets in the best interest of the principal.
A major benefit of assigning financial power of attorney is preventing the need for a court to appoint a conservator, which can be a more complicated and lengthy process. However, since this is obviously a very powerful position, the person given this responsibility must be someone you trust to make sound and wise business decisions, especially because they can be given such sweeping control over your assets.
Why Use a Lawyer?
Power of attorney can easily be abused, since so much control over your medical or financial well-being is handed over to someone else while you are unable to speak up. And unlike a living will, which can specifically stipulate your wishes in certain situations, power of attorney places trust in an individual to address concerns that can’t be foreseen. At the same time, power of attorney can be an effective tool to protect you and your family. If someone you trust is given the role, such as a spouse or business partner, this document prevents headaches and lengthy legal frustration. It can also prevent abuses by placing control in the proper hands.
However, because of the risks involved, the advice of a knowledgeable and caring estate planning lawyer can help you rest easy knowing that you are protected and that your wishes are clearly outlined in a legal document. Our highly experienced estate planning attorneys will make sure that your power of attorney is personalized, valid, and meets Arizona state requirements.
Representation in a Variety of Estate Planning Matters
In addition to power of attorney, you can discuss your many options with the estate planning attorneys at Bellah Perez. Because medical power of attorney is often coupled with a living will, we can help you craft both to complement each other. It may also be a good time to review your Last Will and Testament, as a power of attorney is only effective during a your lifetime, and the granted authority ends upon your death.
Our other estate planning areas of practice include:
- Creating Wills and Trusts
- Providing Representation in Conservatorships and Guardianships
- Providing Representation in Probate Matters
- Drafting Beneficiary Deeds