Power of Attorney
Estate planning involves more than writing a will or establishing a trust. An estate plan can also address your lifetime needs, like creating a power of attorney.
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person authority to act on your (the principal’s) behalf. The person you appoint to represent you is called the agent or attorney-in-fact. Your authorized agent can help with specific tasks, like signing a contract when you are unavailable, or ongoing tasks, like paying your bills.
Types of Power of Attorney
California recognizes several types of power of attorney, including durable, springing, and medical:
- A durable power of attorney allows the agent to make decisions on your behalf for your entire lifetime unless the written agreement states otherwise or you terminate the durable power of attorney.
- A springing power of attorney is a special type of durable power of attorney that is triggered by a specific event. It is called a “springing” power because it “springs” to life only when needed. For example, you might have a legal document that specifies the agent will only have authority to make decisions on your behalf if your physician attests that you are incapacitated.
- Similarly, a medical power of attorney is used to make healthcare decisions on behalf of a principal who is unable to make those decisions for him or herself. Typically you would also implement an advance healthcare directive setting forth your wishes regarding life support, pain medication, and other medical issues.
What Authority Does an Attorney-in-Fact Have?
A principal can grant an attorney-in-fact authority to act on all lawful subjects and purposes. For example, a power of attorney may permit the attorney-in-fact to make decisions about the principal’s real and personal property, to decide where the principal should live, to provide meals and transportation, to hire household employees, and to arrange recreation and entertainment.
How do I Execute a Valid Power of Attorney?
California law requires that the power of attorney contain the date of execution, that it be signed either by the principal or another adult acting in the principal’s presence and at the principal’s direction, and either be signed by two witnesses or acknowledged by a notary.
The witnesses must be adults, and the attorney-in-fact cannot act as a witness.
Can I Revoke a Power of Attorney?
Yes. But how you terminate a power of attorney depends on the type you executed. Sometimes a power of attorney is set to expire on a certain date or after a specific task has been completed. You can also execute a written revocation terminating the legal relationship. An attorney can walk you through this process and everything you need to know about powers of attorney.
Your Estate Planning Needs
There is no one right way to plan for your future. Moreover, your needs might change over the course of your lifetime. The experienced attorneys at Randhawa Hundal LLP can help individuals and families in the Roseville and Sacramento areas create a valid power of attorney and with other estate planning needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.