Over 18? You Should Have A Power of Attorney.
A Power of Attorney (POA) is an essential planning document that allows you to appoint a trusted person (known as your agent or attorney-in-fact) to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. There are different types of Power of Attorney:
1. General Power of Attorney: A general power of attorney gives broad powers to your chosen agent. Some of the authorized powers may include handling financial and business transactions, buying life insurance, settling claims, operating business interests, making gifts, and employing professional help. It is regularly included in an estate plan to make sure someone you trust can handle your financial matters in the event you are unable to due to illness or incapacity.
In the absence of a valid power of attorney, your loved ones would have to petition the court to appoint a conservator to handle your affairs – and this process can be time-consuming and costly. A power of attorney can be written to be effective immediately, or it can be designed to go into effect only when you are confirmed to be incapable of managing your own affairs.
Unless you intend to grant limited authority for a limited period of time, is important that your power of attorney be made “durable” so it will continue to operate even in the event of your incapacity, because that is when it likely will be most needed.
2. Special Power of Attorney: A special power of attorney allows you to grant to your agent a limited power or set of powers. This is often used when one cannot handle a single transaction or certain limited matters (for example, handling a real estate transaction) due to other commitments or health reasons.
3. Health Care Power of Attorney: A health care power of attorney grants your agent authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unconscious, mentally incompetent, or otherwise unable to make and communicate decisions on your own. In Pennsylvania, the health care POA is often combined with a living will and a HIPAA authorization into a single document called an Advance Health Care Directive.