Why Would You Need A Power Of Attorney?
We have probably all heard the term ‘power of attorney’, but it doesn’t follow that we know what it means. It’s all over the TV, we find it in novels, it’s in films as a great plot point, but what does it really mean, and when and why might you want to use it?
A power of attorney is a document. That’s the first thing to remember, and something that is often misunderstood as people tend to imagine that it is a particular person instead. This document allows you to appoint someone (which is where the confusion lies) to look after your money, property, assets, even to make decisions on your behalf regarding your health, if you are unable to do so. If this sounds too vague or too much, you can enact a ‘special power of attorney’ which is used only in very specific circumstances – circumstances that you dictate.
As well as these two main power of attorney types, you can also use a health care power of attorney which means that your attorney in fact can deal with health decisions on your behalf.
Some of the things that a general power of attorney allows others to do on your behalf include selling property, opening safe deposit boxes, settle claims, file tax returns, buy or sell stocks, and so on.
But it is the health power of attorney that most people think of when considering this. It’s not something that everyone will be happy to do as there is a lot of responsibility – so make sure you speak to the person you want to have the job before you start any paperwork. It’s important that there are no problems if you need to enact the power of attorney. The health power of attorney will relate to ‘life sustaining measures’ such as life support or medications. It might even relate to consent for operations to be carried out. Someone will need to make these decisions if you are unable to – if, for example, you are in a coma, are badly injured, or have limited mental capacity. It is best to discuss your wishes with your attorney in fact so that, in the event that something should happen, they can follow what you wanted.