If you want to give somebody the legal power to make certain decisions on your behalf in Woodland, 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 common 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. Therefore, 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 Woodland, Washington, you can find pre-printed power-of-attorney forms in many office supply stores. If the agreement you want to create isn't very complex, these could be a viable and very affordable option. Of course, it never hurts to have a lawyer help.
Types of Power of Attorney Arrangements in Woodland, Washington
Power of attorney in Woodland, Washington takes 3 main forms. Which one is appropriate for you depends on 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 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 the power to make decisions on a general area of the principal's affairs (for example, the power to access the principal's assets to pay the principal's debts, or the power to make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal). Unlike limited power of attorney, durable power of attorney does not expire unless the principal revokes it. This is useful, because it allows the attorney-in-fact to make important decisions for the principal if the principal becomes incapacitated.
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 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 decide the issue.
Can a Woodland, Washington Lawyer Help?
Because setting up a power of attorney agreement is not always easy in Woodland, Washington, it's never imprudent to at least consult with a lawyer beforehand. As with any legal agreement, there are things that can go wrong, which laypersons may not foresee.