What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document giving someone the authority to make decisions on your behalf. It is best if you consult with your own attorney before signing a Power of Attorney document.
A POA can be for a specific period of time or continue even when you are no longer able to make any decisions on your own. It’s important that you understand what decision-making powers you are giving to the person you name as your Power of Attorney.
You can choose whether the POA goes into effect immediately or only when you are unable to make your own decisions. You can change or revoke your POA at any time as long as you have the mental ability to do so. The authority of a Power of Attorney ends when you die.
Types of Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney gives the person you name the power to make decisions in a broad range of things such as your medical care, banking transactions, or business management.
A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) remains in effect even if you become unable to make your wishes known.
A Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) gives the person you name specific authority to make medical decisions for you. Sometimes the person you name is called a “Health Care Proxy”. A Health Care Power of Attorney may make decisions about your medical treatment including life support decisions unless you have a Living Will or Advanced Directives. Download Your States Advanced Directives here
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), your doctor, hospitals or long term care facilities may be prevented from giving out any information about your condition to anyone who isn’t your Health Care Power of Attorney.
A Financial Power of Attorney gives the person you name full authority to act on your behalf in all financial matters. A financial power of attorney may withdraw money from your bank accounts, write checks on your behalf, buy and sell property-all financial transactions.
**The crime of Financial Exploitation is often committed by trusted family members–
USE CAUTION WHEN GIVING SOMEONE AUTHORITY OVER YOUR MONEY**
Why Should I Care?
If you become incapacitated your family may not be able to receive information about your condition.
Your family may need to go to court to have a judge name someone to be in charge of your health care and financial decisions.