|Posted by Edna & Roger Boisjoli on February 3, 2013 at 3:20 PM|
A power of attorney (POA) is a powerful tool that allows someone to act on your behalf in medical, legal and business affairs. Call your law firm and an attorney will explain the benefits of a power of attorney to you. In the meantime, here are some important things to know about powers of attorney:
- A person must be legally competent when signing (granting) a POA. A person who is not mentally capable of handling his or her own affairs cannot grant a valid power of attorney.
- The individual granting the power of attorney is known as the grantor in the United States and the donor in Canada.
- The individual granted power is often referred to as the agent, attorney or attorney-in-fact.
- The powers granted by a POA may be limited or general. A general power of attorney allows the agent to act broadly in the handling of financial and personal matters, while a limited power of attorney grants only specific powers to the agent.
- A medical or health care POA limits the agent’s power to medical decisions, including the termination of life support. It is important that the attorney drafting your POA and the individual you appoint as agent understand your wishes.
- A “living will” or advanced medical directive is different than a medical power of attorney. In a “living will”, the maker gives instruction on the limits of medical care he or she desires directly to family and medical staff. No agent is appointed.
- Give copies of your medical POA and “living will’ to your physicians and trusted friends or family members and ask them to keep them in a safe place in case they are needed.
- You must know and trust your designated agent. An unscrupulous agent with a general POA could drain your bank accounts, sell your car or open lines of credit in your name. Once the damage is done it can be extremely difficult to repair. If you have any doubts about your choice of agent, do not sign a POA naming them.
- Your agent should be financially sound and capable of making important financial decisions. Be sure your agent manages his or her own affairs satisfactorily before giving that agent a power to manage yours.
- A POA or “living will” can be revoked. If you wish to revoke a previous POA or “living will”, call your law firm and speak with an attorney.
- POA documents are no longer valid after the grantor or donor is deceased. After the grantor dies the executor manages the estate in accordance with the will.