What is a power of attorney or advance directive?
A power of attorney grants authority to another person to act on your behalf. The most common types are for finances or healthcare decisions. These generally grant authority to act only when you are incapacitated in some way and unable to make decisions on your own. Depending on your purposes for the document, you can grant broad authority to the person designated to act on your behalf or restrict them to only certain things, including providing instruction regarding health care decisions.
Why is it important?
In the event a person becomes incapacitated and is unable to act on their own behalf and make decisions regarding their healthcare or handle their finances, having a power of attorney allows someone you trust and designate to act quickly on your behalf.
If you do not have one, in order to obtain authority to act on behalf of the incapacitated person, the person seeking to act on your behalf will need to obtain court authority. The two types of authority are guardianship and conservatorship. Guardianship is the authority over the person (making decisions regarding medical care and living arrangements) whereas conservatorship is the authority of the person’s property and finances.
In order to obtain a guardianship or conservatorship, a person needs to petition the probate court and it can be a cumbersome and lengthy process. This is not ideal when you need to act timely to assist the incapacitated person which is why the power of attorney forms are so vital. Not only that, they don’t have any guidance as to what the incapacitated person may want. A power of attorney and healthcare directive can provide such guidance.
Our office is well versed in drafting powers of attorney and can ensure that all legal requirements are met so that you are protected. Please do not hesitate to contact us at (248) 676-1000 for assistance or should you have any questions.