In San Mateo County, 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 specific situations, and under specific conditions. Power of attorney might be granted 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.
One very prevalent 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. Consequently, 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 Mateo County, 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 Mateo County, California
There are 3 general arrangements that power of attorney can involve in San Mateo County, California. They are:
1. Limited power of attorney - this is the most limited form of power of attorney. It lets the attorney-in-fact exercise his or her power once, and in only one instance (laid out by the principal, of course). This is typically used in business deals, if it is not convenient for the actual party to a deal to be physically present for the signing of some documents, it can be done through an attorney-in-fact. You simply need to give them the power to sign the paperwork on your behalf, and it will be just as binding as if you had signed the documents yourself.
2. Durable power of attorney - unlike limited power of attorney, discussed above, this does not automatically expire, though the principal can end it at any time. It is typically not limited to a single transaction, either. Rather, it covers a broader subject matter, though it still has limits. For example, you could give someone durable power of attorney to make medical decisions for you, but they would only be permitted to act in that context.
3. Springing power of attorney - under this arrangement, the attorney-in-fact does not get power of attorney until the happening of some stated event. The specified event is typically the incapacity or disability of the principal, though it can be virtually any event you wish. You should be aware, however, that it is not always clear when the principal has become sufficiently "disabled" for the power of attorney to take effect. This question sometimes has to be determined by a court, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Can a San Mateo County, California Lawyer Help?
Drafting a power of attorney agreement in San Mateo County, California is not always easy. And even if the arrangement you want to set up is relatively simple, it might still be a good idea to have a lawyer go over it, just to make sure that there are no flaws that might prevent it from being implemented.