Power of Attorney

What are the steps to take when you can no longer make decisions concerning your assets? Giving Power of Attorney allows you to pass the responsibility to someone you trust. 

What is Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney, or a POA, is a legal document that appoints an individual, the “attorney,” to act in someone’s place when he/she is incapable of managing his or her own affairs. The person who gives power to an attorney is called a “donor.” A donor could be someone who is mentally or physically unable to take care of themselves, or it could also be someone who is out of the country and can’t attend to his/her business. In both cases, an attorney is needed to act in the donor’s place.

Giving Power of Attorney

If you wish to give someone Power of Attorney, you must make an appointment to meet with your lawyer or notary. In some cases, donors might be too old or sick to leave their home, so most lawyers can go their homes or hospital rooms.

Before the meeting, you must decide beforehand who your attorney will be. Your attorney is someone you can trust, such as a family member, a friend or even your lawyer. This person must be consulted beforehand to be sure that he/she is willing to be your attorney. It is also best to appoint another person as a secondary attorney in case your primary attorney is incapable of acting on your behalf. In some cases you might want to appoint two attorneys to act jointly.

During the meeting, the lawyer will give you advice on how to protect yourself within a POA document. For example, if you don’t want your attorney to have the power to sell your house, this type of restriction can be included in the document. Once the document is prepared, then the donor and two witnesses will sign it.

Getting Power of Attorney

There are two ways to get Power of Attorney:

  • Someone appoints you as their attorney. This is when the donor foresees a point in the future when he or she will need you to do things on his or her behalf.
  • The court appoints you as an attorney for someone. If you wish to have power of attorney for someone who is incapable of appointing you (for example, someone who is in a coma), then you must have your lawyer file a motion to a court, and a judge will decide if you should be that person’s attorney.