When everyday people think about whether a power of attorney makes sense for them, it’s often in the context of need. Consider which of these scenarios would constitute a “need” for you.

  • A: You are scheduled for a significant medical procedure.
  • B: You recently received a long-term illness diagnosis.
  • C: You plan on traveling while a home or business is on the market.
  • D: You are perfectly healthy, active and lead a modest lifestyle.

The correct answer is All of the Above. The point of putting a Power of Attorney (POA) in place is to have someone ready to make decisions in the event you cannot. Tragedy can strike at any time and there are a variety of POA options that can transfer defined levels of control to your designee. Consider these options.

General Power of Attorney

Transferring broad decision-making powers to an individual or organization can prove beneficial in the event you are unable to manage your affairs. These duties may include pertinent things such as financial management, running day-to-day business operations, and short-term oversight while you are away. One of the primary goals of a general POA will be to put someone in charge in the event you fall ill or are otherwise incapacitated. An experienced attorney can help you fold this into your estate plan.

Specialized Power of Attorney

This type of POA can transfer limited powers and duties to your designated person or entity. It can outline certain financial duties such as real estate management, asset liquidation or be more personalized to entrust unique duties to an authorized agent. Like the general POA, it can be part of your overall estate plan.

Medical Power of Attorney

It’s important to understand that a healthcare-based POA differs from a living will. A living will deliver authority to a person of your choosing to direct physicians with regards to end-of-life care. A medical POA allows your agent to make decisions about ongoing care should you be incapacitated or suffer an illness such as Alzheimer’s. Both documents are essential parts of your long-term planning.

Durable Power of Attorney for Elders

Although any age group can create a durable POA, they are particularly beneficial when it comes to caring for our valued elders. Mechanisms can be put in place that authorizes your agent based on your physician’s diagnosis. You can also require a second, concurring opinion to be included. Losing that freedom is often a personal concern that holds everyday Floridians back from executing a power of attorney document. The doctor’s trigger provides a safeguard that your decision-making authority cannot be usurped. The goal of a truly beneficial POA maximizes your free exercise over your own affairs.

How To Choose A POA Designee

When selecting a POA agent, one primary factor is trust. You will be transferring life-altering authority and the importance of that person or organization following a path you would approve of cannot be understated. The agent will need to understand what you believe are your best interests. This could be a dear friend or loved one that knows you intimately. Another direction may be to go with an objective agent that follows more standard protocols in terms of financial management and medical decisions.

Undertaking a vetting process such as background checks and understanding the agent’s own medical and emotional history can also prove valuable. The best choice for you may be someone who is solid physically, emotionally, has demonstrated honesty and, perhaps, loyalty.

Creating A Power Of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legally-binding document that transfers your decision-making authority to a designated agent. There are several procedural steps that will need to be taken for the document to be actionable. A signed, notarized document along with certified copies, will need to be distributed to banks, businesses and others financial institutions. Many of these will reject an agent after the fact and that could lead to unnecessary litigation. Getting your ducks in a row will be an important part of the POA process. Keep in mind, that should you decide to revoke your POA or make changes, it may be necessary to re-issue the current document.

If you are considering creating a power of attorney, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney. The France Law Firm provides thoughtful legal services that provide everyday people with long-term life solutions. Call our Tallahassee office to schedule a consultation today.