If you want to give somebody the legal permission to make certain decisions on your behalf in Bellingham, Washington, you are giving them "power of attorney." There are many different types of power of attorney, to be discussed in more detail below, but they all boil down to one common element: the power of one person to make decisions for another. I'm sure you can think of many reasons why somebody might want to give this power to another person, particularly in the medical context (in case the grantor becomes incapacitated, for example).
The principal is able to dictate the particular scope of the attorney-in-fact's authority. If you are giving someone power of attorney, you're probably planning on giving it to a close friend, family member, or life partner. The exact scope of the power is up to you, and will depend on what your goals are.
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 fairly 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 authority to carry out your wishes, if necessary.
In Bellingham, Washington, you can likely 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 need the parties to fill in the blanks with names, dates, and a few other details.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Bellingham, Washington
There are 3 power-of-attorney arrangements that can be set up in Bellingham, Washington. 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 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 usually 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 permission 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 dissolve 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 - this is a lot like durable power of attorney, but it does not typically take effect immediately. Alternatively, the power vests on the occurrence of specific condition(s) laid out by the principal. The principal could make the condition anything he or she wants, authorizing power of attorney to vest only if, say, a person flies to Saturn. Of course, these arrangements are typically not so outlandish. Typically the event that must take place is the principal becoming incapacitated. This grants the principal to make his or her own decisions while they're able, but also ensures that someone they trust will be able to carry out their wishes in the event that they become too sick or weak to express them.
Can a Bellingham, Washington Lawyer Help?
Because there are sometimes confusing issues involved in setting up power of attorney in Bellingham, Washington, you should consult with a lawyer beforehand. You can tell the lawyer all of the relevant details about your specific situation, and your goals, and he or she will be able to advise you on the best course of action.