In El Cerrito, 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.
If you are giving someone power of attorney, it's up to you to decide precisely what kind of decisions they will be able to make, and when they'll be able to make them. In any case, however, it's very important that you completely trust the person to whom you're granting this authority, since any power of attorney, even if it's very limited in scope, can be abused. Obviously, whatever type and amount of power you wish to give will depend on your intentions, as well as many external factors.
For example, some people have particular wishes, whether based on religion or personal preference, about how they should be cared for at the end of their life. Oftentimes, people who are at the end of their lives become unable to express their wishes. Consequently, it becomes necessary to have somebody else who knows what they would want, and has the legal authority to give effect to those wishes.
In El Cerrito, 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 El Cerrito, California
In El Cerrito, California, there are 3 types of power of attorney. They are:
1. Limited power of attorney - limited power of attorney gives the attorney-in-fact the power to act on your behalf on a single issue, in a single transaction. For instance, if you are purchasing a house in another state, you may wish to grant limited power of attorney to a friend or relative who lives in that state, so they can sign all of the proper documents on your behalf, so you don't have to incur travel expenses. For obvious reasons, you should only grant this authority to someone you trust. Once the transaction is complete, the power of attorney automatically disappears.
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 - this is close to durable power of attorney, but the power is conditional. That is, it does not take effect unless some particular event takes place. This event can be anything. Most frequently, however, the agreement permits the attorney-in-fact to make important medical and financial decisions for the principal, only in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated. However, there are sometimes disagreements over whether or not a person is truly "incapacitated" to the point that the power of attorney has been triggered. This can lead to a court of law having to determine the issue.
Can a El Cerrito, California Lawyer Help?
Because setting up a power of attorney agreement is not always straightforward in El Cerrito, California, it's never imprudent to at least speak with a lawyer beforehand. As with any legal agreement, there are things that can go wrong, which laypersons may not foresee.