What is a Power of Attorney and why do I need one?


There are two types of powers of attorney: one is for financial purposes and one for health and medical.

The financial power of attorney allows you to name someone to make financial decisions. They can have basically the same powers as you would. There are a few limitations on powers that you can’t give to someone else and there are powers that can be granted but have to be expressly stated in the power of attorney. There are also two types of financial power of attorney.

One takes effect at your incapacity and one that takes effect upon your signing in front of a notary public. You need to have a financial power of attorney in case you become incapacitated (durable) otherwise someone would have to petition the probate court where you live to have someone named as your conservator to manage your money and pay your bills. This can be extremely time consuming and expensive.

The same basic tenets apply to a power of attorney and health care directive. This one, however, only applies if you can not make your own decisions. If you don’t have one and you become incapacitated someone would have to petition the court to name you as their guardian and would then be able to make health care decisions for them. This again is time-consuming and can be expensive. A health care directive also allows you to state what end of life measures you want to be able to be withheld or withdrawn (i.e. feeding and water tubes, surgery, CPR, etc.).

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