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What is a power of attorney?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Wills

As you plan your estate, you have the option to name a power of attorney. A power of attorney is a useful agent that may be necessary if you suffer a severe injury or illness and can no longer care for yourself. The person you name as your power of attorney can act on your behalf to manage your financial and medical decisions.

There’s a lot to understand before you name a power of attorney. Here are a few questions you may need to ask:

What are the duties of a power of attorney?

As mentioned above, if you become incapacitated, you could have a power of attorney to decide whether you undergo surgery, therapy or medication and they can help pay debts, file taxes and manage investments. A power of attorney should always act in your best interests as they handle these delicate matters. 

Typically, when a power of attorney manages both medical and financial decisions, they are called a general power of attorney. However, this role can be split between two people so that one is a financial power of attorney and the other is a medical power of attorney. 

A power of attorney can also be considered durable or springing. A durable power of attorney takes on their role at the time of signing and lasts until your passing. A springing power of attorney becomes effective when a specific event happens, such as your incapacitation. 

What makes a good power of attorney?

Because the role of power of attorney is so important to your life, it’s crucial to pick the right person. Not just anyone should be your power of attorney. You may consider someone who knows you well, such as a spouse or someone you know is responsible, such as a child or sibling. The wrong person as your power of attorney could abuse their role and act in a way that only benefits them. 

Before naming a power of attorney, you may need to reach out for legal help to learn more about the role and who would be best to fill it.