In Washington, District of Columbia, 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.
Any power-of-attorney arrangement creates the possibility that the attorney-in-fact will abuse the power he or she has been authorized, and it's simply not feasible to totally eliminate this possibility. It can be minimized, however, by giving the attorney the bare minimum amount of power needed to carry out your wishes, and making your wishes known in writing (with copies held by at least one other person) well in advance. When authorizing power of attorney, you can usually grant as much authority as you want, so you need to be very careful, and only give this legal authority to somebody you know and trust. Also, you should consider your circumstances and objectives when determining what type of power to grant.
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.
Usually, you can find forms in Washington, District of Columbia that let you quickly draft a power of attorney document. However, if a considerable amount of money is at stake, or you wish to grant very particular and limited powers, you should probably consult with a lawyer beforehand.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Washington, District of Columbia
There are 3 general arrangements that power of attorney can involve in Washington, District of Columbia. 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 regularly 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 right 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 stop 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 instance, 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 decided by a court, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Can a Washington, District of Columbia Lawyer Help?
Setting up a power of attorney arrangement in Washington, District of Columbia can be easy, but it can also be very confusing. It just varies on what you're trying to do. However, if you are at all unsure about how to proceed, it would probably be a good idea to have an attorney draft the agreement for you.