There are many unpleasant situations that can leave you unable to make your own decisions about healthcare, finances, or your business. While no one likes to consider these circumstances, it is important to prepare for them. A power of attorney is a legal document that designates a person to act in your stead. The power can be limited to certain situations, certain decisions, or a certain time limit. It can be transferred to a secondary nominee if your first choice abuses his or her authority to make decisions. In this way, a power of attorney allows you to maintain control over your healthcare and finances in situations in which you are unable to make your wishes known.
If you would like to discuss your power of attorney options, consult with the legal team at Malman Law today.
You can assign power of attorney for specific decisions. One common designation is a healthcare power of attorney, which applies to medical decisions that you cannot make due to incapacity. Incapacity is a legal term that means you do not have the ability to make decisions for yourself. This could be for a physical reason, such as being in a coma. It could also be for mental reasons. If a patient were suffering from dementia, for example, he or she may not be competent to make decisions about healthcare.
Power of attorney grants the authority to make medical decisions. Because you are appointing your “attorney,” you are able to maintain control over your health decisions by choosing the person who makes them. This is why it is so important to execute a valid power of attorney prior to being incapacitated. It is also important to supplement a power of attorney with documents that specifically state what your medical wishes are. This can be done in a living will or an advanced healthcare directive.
You may also designate power of attorney to a person who will make financial decisions on your behalf. Again, this power only applies if you have been incapacitated. Once you have been proven to be incompetent to make your own financial decisions, your “attorney” will be able to make these decisions for you. This is why you must choose someone who you trust with your assets. You can also provide for a secondary “attorney” who will take over if the first “attorney” abuses his or her authority to make financial decisions on your behalf.
Your financial power of attorney can be specific or general. You might identify specific decisions (such as paying your bills as they come due), or grant a general authority to act on your behalf in all financial matters that concern you. Your financial power of attorney should address any specific matters that apply to your personal, family, or business finances.
Your financial affairs may involve an interest in a business entity. This could be as the owner of an LLC, a stockholder in a publicly-traded corporation, or a partner in a limited business venture. These business interests involve different types of authority. One is a simple financial interest in the business profits and losses, or the sale of your stock. The other is management or voting interest. This occurs if you are a voting owner or a member of a board of directors.
If you become incapacitated, you can execute a power of attorney that gives your chosen “attorney” the authority to act on your behalf in all business matters. This person has the exact same authority over the business that you would have if you could act on your own behalf. For example, if you have one vote on a ten-vote board, your attorney will only be able to make your single vote by proxy. But the management and voting decisions your proxy makes can dramatically affect your legal and financial interests in the business. Be sure to choose a proxy who understands the business and will make informed decisions in your stead.
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