In Berkeley, California, power of attorney is an arrangement in which one person (the principal) gives another (the attorney-in-fact) the capacity to act on the principal's behalf in specific situations, and under specific conditions. Power of attorney might be authorized for any number of reasons, but it is most frequently set up to allow the attorney-in-fact to make financial and medical decisions on the principal's behalf in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated.
The principal in a power-of-attorney arrangement is the one who decides the scope of the power that the attorney will be able to wield, and the circumstances under which they can wield it. Generally, you can grant the attorney-in-fact as much or as little decision-making power as you'd like. In every case, however, you should only enter a power-of-attorney arrangement with somebody you trust. The nature of the power you should grant depends heavily on the context, and what your wishes are.
If you have a strong preference with respect to end-of-life care, but worry that you might be unable to express your wishes when the time comes, you may want to give a family member the legal authority to make such arrangements for you, if necessary. Of course, the power you grant them should be precisely limited to medical decisions, if that's all you want them to be able to decide. It should additionally clearly state that this power will not directly vest until and unless you actually become incapacitated. For reasons that should be obvious, you should only give this power to a person you trust.
In Berkeley, California, you can sometimes find pre-printed forms that let you easily draft a power-of-attorney agreement. However, if your situation is particularly complex, you should probably have a lawyer draft it for you, to ensure that the agreement is enforceable, or that there are no surprises.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Berkeley, California
In Berkeley, California, there are 3 types of power of attorney. They are:
1. Limited power of attorney - this lets the attorney-in-fact exercise limited authority in a single transaction. It is useful, for instance, if someone is buying property in another state, and the deal is nearly done, but a few documents need to be signed. The buyer could give a resident of that state power of attorney, authorizing him or her to complete the transaction on the buyer's behalf. Conveniently, the power automatically terminates when the transaction is complete.
2. Durable power of attorney - this gives the attorney-in-fact much more power than limited power of attorney. It can, in theory, give them unlimited power in a particular area of the principal's affairs. The document should lay out precisely what power the attorney-in-fact will wield. This agreement, when used carefully, can be very useful, authorizing the attorney-in-fact to make important decisions for the principal as long as is necessary, because it does not automatically disappear after a single transaction. Additionally, the principal can revoke the power of attorney at any time.
3. Springing power of attorney - springing power of attorney is much like durable power of attorney, with one key difference: the power only takes effect upon the happening of a specific event. The principal is free to set whatever conditions they like in this arrangement, no matter how outlandish. Of course, in most cases, the setup is much more practical. A typical arrangement grants a close friend or family member to make certain decisions for someone else, but only if that person becomes unable to make them himself.
Can a Berkeley, California Lawyer Help?
While setting up power of attorney in Berkeley, California can be simple, there are some cases in which it will inevitably be convoluted. In such cases, the process will be much easier if you have a reliable attorney to help you along the way.