WHY DO I NEED A POWER OF ATTORNEY?
The purpose of the Power of Attorney is to nominate someone to handle your affairs when you are alive but incapacitated and unable to make healthcare or financial decisions for yourself. This could occur if you had an illness or accident. A Power of Attorney is only valid when you are alive and ends upon your death. There are 2 Powers of Attorney namely a financial Power of Attorney and one for healthcare (in California this is called a Healthcare Directive).
WHO SHOULD I NOMINATE TO MAKE DECISIONS ON MY BEHALF IF I AM ILL?
If you are married, your spouse would usually make these decisions. However, if you are not married then you could nominate another family member or a trusted friend. It is a good idea to nominate several people so that if one passes away or is unable to handle the Powers of Attorney, there would be another person ready to do so.
DO I NEED TO SEE AN ATTORNEY FOR A POWER OF ATTORNEY?
Yes, you need legal advice when creating a Power of Attorney. Generic Powers of Attorney may not fit your situation and these important documents must be understood in entirety before they are prepared.
IF I AM ONLY 30 YEARS OLD, DO I STILL NEED A FINANCIAL OR HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY?
A Financial Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Directive are needed at any age. The reason for this is that an accident or unforeseen circumstance can render anyone in a position where they may not be able to make decisions about their finances or their health care. A person may go into a coma after an accident or may become debilitated after an illness. In a Financial Power of Attorney, you would nominate someone you trust to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Likewise, in a Healthcare Directive, you would nominate someone to make decisions about your health if you are unable to do so. Many times, people neglect these very important documents and then find themselves in difficult situations. Family members may fight over what they feel would be the decision of the ailing person. Further, if a person is not of ‘sound mind’ he/she would not be able to sign a Power of Attorney and consequently may need a conservatorship.