If you want to give somebody the legal power to make certain decisions on your behalf in Kent, 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 authority 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, especially in the medical context (in case the grantor becomes incapacitated, for example).
The principal is able to dictate the specific 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 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 Kent, Washington, 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 Kent, Washington
There are 3 general arrangements that power of attorney can involve in Kent, Washington. 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 - 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 - this is similar to durable power of attorney, but the power is conditional. That is, it does not take effect unless some particular event takes place. This event can be anything. Most frequently, however, the agreement permits 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 truly "incapacitated" to the point that the power of attorney has been triggered. This can lead to a court of law having to decide the issue.
Can a Kent, Washington Lawyer Help?
Because setting up a power of attorney agreement is not always straightforward in Kent, Washington, 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.