In San Francisco, California, power of attorney is an arrangement in which one person (the principal) gives another (the attorney-in-fact) the ability to act on the principal's behalf in certain situations, and under certain conditions. Power of attorney might be granted for any number of reasons, but it is most often 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 exactly 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.
One very common reason for granting power of attorney is that the grantor believes that they might become incapacitated, due to age or illness, in the relatively near future, and they want to make sure that their preferences relating to care at the end of their life are followed. Of course, if nobody knows what that person's preferences are, and the patient is unable to express them, family members and doctors will simply have to guess. Obviously, there's a good chance that they could get it wrong. Therefore, you should make your desires well-known to those who will be in a position to implement it, and grant, in writing, a person you trust (such as a spouse, life partner, sibling, or adult child) the power to carry out your wishes, if necessary.
In San Francisco, California, you can probably find pre-printed forms at office supply stores available for purchase. They already have the basic terms of a power-of-attorney agreement written, and just require the parties to fill in the blanks with names, dates, and a few other details.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in San Francisco, California
There are 3 basic arrangements that power of attorney can involve in San Francisco, California. 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 example, if you are buying 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 relevant documents on your behalf, so you don't have to incur travel expenses. For obvious reasons, you should only grant this power to someone you trust. Once the transaction is complete, the power of attorney automatically disappears.
2. Durable power of attorney - this lets an attorney-in-fact make decisions in a particular, specified area of the principal's affairs. Durable power of attorney doesn't automatically disappear, and can last indefinitely, or until the principal revokes it. This can be very useful, because it allows the attorney-in-fact to make crucial decisions for the principal, but allows the principal to revoke the power if they regain the capacity to make their own decisions.
3. Springing power of attorney - this is similar to durable power of attorney, but the power is conditional. That is, it does not take effect unless some specific event takes place. This event can be anything. Most often, however, the agreement allows 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 actually "incapacitated" to the point that the power of attorney has been triggered. This can lead to a court of law having to decide the issue.
Can a San Francisco, California Lawyer Help?
Because setting up a power of attorney agreement is not always easy in San Francisco, California, it's never imprudent to at least consult with a lawyer beforehand. As with any legal agreement, there are things that can go wrong, which laypersons may not foresee.