In Wilmington, Delaware, 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 certain situations, and under certain conditions. Power of attorney might be authorized 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.
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 generally 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. Therefore, it becomes necessary to have somebody else who knows what they would want, and has the legal authority to give effect to those wishes.
Occasionally, you can find pre-printed forms in Wilmington, Delaware permitting you to easily draft a power of attorney document. In some cases, this may be all you need. These forms already have the basics of such an agreement committed to writing. All you and the other party have to do is fill in the blanks, per the instructions, and possibly have the forms notarized.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Wilmington, Delaware
There are 3 power-of-attorney schemes that can be set up in Wilmington, Delaware. Which one is best for you will largely depend on your goals, and your individual situation. They are:
1. Limited power of attorney - this is probably the most limited form of power of attorney. It lets someone act on your behalf in a single instance. It is used most often in large sales transactions involving a written contract. If the closing of the deal is set to take place far away from where one of the parties is located, they can give limited power of attorney to someone who is closer. All you have to do is give that person the power to act on your behalf in this one transaction. This authority automatically expires once the deal is finished.
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 usually 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 allowed to act in that context.
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 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 determine the issue.
Can a Wilmington, Delaware Lawyer Help?
Because there are sometimes perplexing issues involved in setting up power of attorney in Wilmington, Delaware, you should consult with a lawyer beforehand. You can tell the lawyer all of the relevant details about your particular situation, and your goals, and he or she will be able to advise you on the best course of action.