A “power of attorney” (POA) is a legal document that appoints a person of your choosing to make decisions on your behalf. They can be used to allow someone to make your business decisions for you, make choices about your health care, or otherwise act as your agent.
Since a general power of attorney document only allows someone to act on your behalf with your consent, it will no longer apply if you become incapacitated. In order for someone to make decisions on your behalf if you are mentally ill or unresponsive, you will need to establish a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney is generally created for one of two reasons:
- Financial Power of Attorney. A financial POA will allow someone to act as your agent in financial transactions. If you are incapacitated, your agent may be given the authority to perform your banking transactions, pay your bills, file your tax returns, manage your investments, or any other duties you assign him or her. The agent doesn't have to be a financial professional, but it should be someone who you trust and who is good with numbers.
- Medical Power of Attorney. A medical POA gives someone the ability to make medical decisions for you if you are too injured or ill to speak on your behalf. The creation of a medical POA includes information on what treatment options you prefer if you are in a coma, are severely disabled, or suffer from dementia. Also called a durable power of attorney for health care, your agent will ensure that your wishes are followed and that you get the medical care you have chosen.
Can I Choose One Person for Both Medical and Financial Power of Attorney?
While you can give POA for health care and finances to the same person, you should strongly consider your options. You may be placing an undue burden on your agent, as well as giving him or her complete access to your personal information and medical records. The most important thing is that you trust your agent completely to carry out the choices that you have made.
For more help choosing an agent to act as power of attorney, click the contact link on this page to ask us a question or set up a consultation.