Consideration of end-of-life arrangements, including a Power of Attorney, is an essential but often overlooked aspect of life planning. This is true for individuals of all ages, as unexpected situations can arise at any time.
It’s crucial to organize your assets and consider appointing a Power of Attorney. This legal tool enables you to select a trusted person to manage your affairs if you’re unable to do so yourself.
While the process of creating a will and designating a decision-maker in case of incapacity can be daunting, it’s an important step in ensuring your well-being and wishes are respected, especially in unforeseen circumstances. Establishing a Power of Attorney is a proactive measure to safeguard your future.
WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY?
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal instrument that enables one individual, termed the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act in place of another person, known as the principal. This authority can be extensive or specific, allowing the agent to make decisions about the principal’s property, finances, or medical care.
The use of a POA is common in situations where the principal is incapacitated due to illness or disability and cannot make legal decisions independently, or when the principal is unavailable to sign necessary legal documents.
A POA grants the appointed individual the ability to handle various financial tasks for the principal, such as:
- Paying bills by accessing financial accounts.
- Filing taxes on behalf of the principal.
- Making investment decisions.
- Collecting debts owed to the principal.
- Managing the principal’s property.
- Applying for public benefits for the principal.
While a POA provides significant authority over financial matters, it does have limitations. An agent under a POA cannot modify the principal’s will, make decisions after the principal’s death, or transfer the POA authority to another person.
Furthermore, an agent has the right to decline their role at any time. However, they cannot designate a replacement. In the event an agent steps down, the principal must have already named an alternate agent in the POA document to ensure continuity of authority.
Enduring Power of Attorney form