For most of us, the thought of giving up our decision-making power to someone else is not an appealing one. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to appoint a person to conduct business for you or oversee your affairs. At times like this, you must sign what is known as a power of attorney. In fact, anyone over the age of 18 should have a power of attorney. It is the most important document you can have.
What’s Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a document that creates a legal relationship between you and another person that allows that person to act and make decisions on your behalf. That person is known as an agent. His or her powers could be limited, referring to only a specific transaction; or extremely broad, applying to any aspect of your life and welfare, including important financial and medical decisions.
Why Choose Power of Attorney?
There are many reasons why a person would sign a power of attorney. Usually, it is a prerequisite for a broker, banker, or financial agent to be able to conduct business on your behalf. Such an agreement would be very clear in terms of what the agent is allowed to do.
A common situation that requires a limited power of attorney is when you have a transaction that requires your signature, but you are not available to sign off on it. For example, perhaps you need to sell a car, but you are out of the country. A power of attorney would allow someone to represent you in the transaction and sign the title over. This could apply to any financial assets or property, but only what is specifically outlined in the power of attorney document.
A medical power of attorney pertains to healthcare decisions that need to be made on your behalf should you become incapacitated. If you are unconscious, mentally incompetent, or otherwise unable to inform a doctor about what treatment you prefer, your agent can make those decisions on your behalf.
When it comes to a power of attorney in Pennsylvania, these documents are considered to be either durable or not. A durable power of attorney means that it will remain in effect after the principal is incapacitated. There is not much reason to have a power of attorney that is not durable. In January 2015 a new power of attorney law went into effect in Pennsylvania. There are very specific requirements needed to make the power of attorney document valid.
If you or a loved one needs to sign a power of attorney that will give someone decision-making powers or review one executed before January 2015, it is always wise to consult an experienced elder law attorney who can help navigate the process for you and explain all of the legal ramifications. At Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC, our lawyers have a full understanding of issues surrounding elder law, family law, and financial transactions, and we will work with you to find the best solution to any situation where a power of attorney could be useful. Call (570) 784-5211 to schedule a free consultation.