In Winters, 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.
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 clearly 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.
Usually, you can find forms in Winters, California that let you easily draft a power of attorney document. However, if a considerable amount of money is at stake, or you wish to grant very specific and limited powers, you should probably consult with a lawyer beforehand.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Winters, California
Power of attorney in Winters, California takes 3 main forms. Which one is appropriate for you depends on your distinct situation. 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 commonly 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 authority 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 - 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 arrangement, 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 - 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 Winters, California Lawyer Help?
Because setting up a power of attorney agreement is not always straightforward in Winters, 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.