Do you know what a power of attorney is? Do you know when one is recommended or even necessary? Do you know how to become one or how to appoint one? Keep reading to learn more!
When most people talk about power of attorney, they may not realize that there are actually different kinds. While all of them have a bit of overlap in their specified duties, there are a few things that differentiate them from each other.
In general, a power of attorney (POA) is a legally binding document that appoints someone to manage or oversee a property, financial institution, or medical decisions should the responsible party no longer be deemed able to do so. This responsibility can encompass making many decisions, from financial and business matters to selecting life insurance policies and settling claims. The person who is appointed to make these decisions is known as an agent or attorney-in-fact. The agent would be someone trustworthy and unbiased, able to execute decisions that will be in the best interest of the party in question.
A special power of attorney typically appoints limited or otherwise specified duties that an agent is deemed responsible for. These are often estate affairs, such as property or real estate management and sales, debt collection and repayment, business transactions, and more.
Health care power of attorney refers to appointing an agent specifically for medical decision-making. Whether you are unconscious, no longer physically or mentally competent, or just otherwise unwell enough to make your own decisions, an agent can step in and make these important choices in your best interest. This is separate from a living will, but can often be combined with one to create a health care directive detailing how you would like your medical matters to be handled once a certain point has been reached.
There are many circumstances that impact the decision to appoint a power of attorney. If someone will be on an extended leave from the country and will be unable to attend to financial and business matters, appointing a power of attorney to make these decisions on their behalf is often recommended.
Another common reason why a POA is appointed is when an individual becomes too unwell physically or mentally, to the point they are no longer able to make decisions in their own interest. Often, if this is the case, an agent will have been appointed earlier on with the stipulation that their responsibilities would begin once physical or mental health has declined to a specific point.