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Power of Attorney

All about general and special power of attorney

Power of attorney agreements, in simple terms, authorize an appointed individual to make important financial and personal decisions on your behalf. They are created as a safeguard to protect you and your assets in the event that an accident, medical condition or illness (physical or psychological) leaves you unable to make such decisions on your own.

If you would like to create this legal safeguard, it is very important that you give power of attorney only to a wholly trustworthy person. You can also name multiple parties and assign each of them specified powers and abilities if, for example, you want a particular person to handle financial affairs, but someone else to address healthcare questions on your behalf.

Types of Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a very flexible legal arrangement. You are able to give your representative as much or as little control over your affairs as you want. General power of attorney, for instance, gives your representative wide-ranging abilities to control your assets and medical treatments. You can also tailor a limited power of attorney agreement any way you like. You can give a person special power of attorney over your medical treatments but not your assets, or control over some assets but not others, or control over all your assets but not your medical treatments, or any other configuration that addresses your needs.

Arrangements specific to healthcare concerns are sometimes called medical power of attorney agreements. This kind of agreement differs from a living will in that power of attorney gives another person the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf, while a living will is a legally binding expression of your wishes made well in advance of their implementation.

How to Grant Power of Attorney

You can fill out standardized power of attorney forms and have them notarized or filed at your lawyer's office if you do not have special, complex or unique requirements. If you want to grant limited power of attorney, name multiple representatives to handle specific affairs or specify other special power of attorney needs, you should draft the document with the help of a lawyer.

Keep in mind that you can terminate a power of attorney at any time by notifying your representative(s) in writing that you wish to end their authority over your affairs.

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