When you start to explore the field of elder law and estate planning you will invariably come across many different legal terms, and you may not be entirely familiar with all of them. For this reason we like to examine some of the legal instruments that are commonly used by elder law attorneys to provide our readers with a little bit of background information. To this end we would like to take a look at powers of attorney, which serve an important purpose in the field of elder law.
A power of attorney is a document that is executed by the grantor who names an agent or attorney-in-fact who is empowered to act in the grantor’s behalf. There are limited powers of attorney, which can be confined to a single act, such as a real estate transaction or the sale of a motor vehicle. And there are general powers of attorney that give another individual or individuals the right to act in your behalf in all matters.
When it comes to elder law issues, powers of attorney are integral to incapacity planning. If you were to become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions the court could be petitioned to appoint a guardian to act in your behalf, and if the petition was granted you could become a ward of the state. Most people would prefer to choose their own legal representatives to make decisions on their behalf in the event of their incapacitation. This is achieved through the execution of powers of attorney.
But, standard powers of attorney do not remain in effect after the incapacitation of the grantor. So, elder law attorneys will generally recommend the execution of durable powers of attorney. These legal instruments do in fact remain in effect even after the incapacitation of the grantor. In some jurisdictions, one can execute a springing durable power of attorney, and these instruments take effect only upon the incapacitation of the grantor.
To gain a deeper understanding of powers of attorney, simply arrange for an incapacity planning consultation with a licensed, experienced elder law attorney.