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What is Power of Attorney? POA Explained

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Planning for a time when you may be unable to make financial or health decisions for yourself is a great way to ensure your plans are carried out well even if you cannot vocalize it yourself.

This article will go over what exactly a Power of Attorney is, what kinds of POAs are there, as well as how someone becomes a Power of Attorney.

What is Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants another person called your “agent” or “attorney in fact,” the power to act on your behalf. This agent will act on the particular power you choose to give them and cannot go beyond what you specify in the POA paperwork you fill out. This power gives typically them the right to make financial decisions, sign legal documents on your behalf, health decisions and more. Again, your agent can only make decisions on your behalf depending on what you give them the power to do. There are additional limitations imposed upon your agent by law.

Types Of Power Of Attorney

There are several types of power of attorney, including general, limited, health care, durable and childcare. Here’s a look at each of these types.

General Durable Power Of Attorney

With a general durable power of attorney, the agent you’ve given the POA to will only handle your affairs for the period of time that you specify, which may be only a few hours or the rest of your life. When you grant someone general power of attorney, it usually means they can buy, rent and sell property on your behalf, as well as handle your financial transactions, unlock your safety deposit box, settle any claims, buy life insurance and enter into contracts. If you need, you can also grant your general power of attorney the ability to maintain any business interests as well. 

Limited Power Of Attorney

Limited, also known as “special” power of attorney doesn’t give as much power to the agent that general power of attorney does. Limited power of attorney allows someone to act your behalf only for a specific situation and limits their power to certain tasks as well. 

Durable Power Of Attorney

The purpose of a durable POA is to plan for medical emergencies, cognitive decline later in life, or other situations where you’re no longer able or capable of making decisions. A durable power of attorney will remain in effect if you become mentally incapacitated. Without this durable language in the paperwork, the person to whom you’ve granted power of attorney can only exercise any power that is also accessible to you.

Because a durable power of attorney allows your agent to carry out the powers you’ve granted them regardless of your health and ability, it’s especially important to grant this power to someone whom you trust completely.

Health Care Power Of Attorney

Health care power of attorney, also called medical power of attorney, gives your appointed agent the power to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.

In your power of attorney document, you can name a doctor who is charged with making the decision of your competency. You can also require that two licensed physicians must agree on your condition.

In practice, the healthcare powers are often included in a single general durable power of attorney, bestowing health care powers upon the same agent having power of your financial and other concerns.

Child Care Power Of Attorney

Child care power of attorney is where you appoint an agent to take care of your children temporarily. This can be used if you are facing jail time or going into a rehabilitation facility. This POA can prevent you from losing custody of your children while you recover.

When Does My Power of Attorney End?

Power of attorney will automatically end when you pass away. A durable POA will also end if:

  • It is revoked. As long as you are mentally competent, you can revoke your document at any time.
  • No agent is available. You can name an alternate agent in your document to prevent this from happening.
  • A court invalidates your document. Though rare, a court may declare your document invalid if it concludes that you were not mentally competent when you signed it, or that you were the victim of fraud or undue influence.
  • Divorce. If your spouse is named as your agent in your POA in Alabama, that designation automatically ends once either of you files for divorce or annulment. So your ex-spouse’s power to act as your agent ends, but your POA will still be intact. So if you named a successor agent, that person would become your agent.
  • Death. A power of attorney ceases to have any legal effect upon your death.
  • Expiration. If a power of attorney expressly expires upon a date certain or upon the occurrence of a particular event, it will cease to have any legal effect. However, it is good practice to execute a revocation of your power attorney when you no longer need it. 

Get Quality Professional Legal Help 

An experienced power of attorney lawyer can help you address legal matters that can affect your quality of life and health. You’ll need an expert to interpret complex Alabama laws and you’ll want the very best to help you plan for your loved ones.

At Brackin & Johnson, our expert attorneys can assist you or your loved ones with planning for long term care and ensuring that your medical needs are met should the time come when you or your family member can no longer care for themselves.
We will work with you to ensure that your future is laid out in writing. If you’re searching for a skilled attorney specializing in estate planning, living wills, and power of attorney, get in touch with us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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