Durable Power of Attorney Lawyer in CA
Life happens to all of us. The odds are low, but you could be in a car accident on your way home from the grocery store. You could be unexpectedly hospitalized for a short period of time. If you’re ever in a situation where you can’t manage your own financial matters or you need help paying bills and handling accounts, having a durable power of attorney in place could help you maintain your independence. If you don’t have a power of attorney in place for your finances, and the unexpected happens, your family might need to go through a very expensive guardianship proceeding if you become incapacitated.
I prepare power of attorney documents that are custom designed to meet your specific needs, granting just enough—but not too much—power for the situation. To understand how a power of attorney could help you, it is helpful to understand how these documents work and your options for creating them.
Exploring the California Power of Attorney
Often referred to as a POA, a power of attorney is a document that gives someone power to act for you. When you grant someone your power of attorney, you don’t give away your power, but you share power with them. You can still make decisions, but so can they. (This differs from a guardianship, in which someone who is incapacitated loses their legal ability to control their own financial affairs.)
When you give someone durable power of attorney, they can access your accounts, pay bills, and manage the business of “you.” However – this is critical - they do not become owners of your assets, so if they get into debt, their creditors cannot take your property. The power is referred to as “durable” because it stays in effect if you become incapacitated.
Choosing Someone to Serve as Your Agent
The person you authorize to act on your behalf through your power of attorney is usually referred to as your agent. Your agent does not need to have any legal training, and you need to trust this person completely. Otherwise they may not make decisions that in your best interest.
You need to choose someone you trust to make good decisions that align with your interests.
Power Can Be Limited in California
When I create a power of attorney for you, I can design it to give your agent broad power to do anything you could do, or I can make the power very limited. For instance, you can authorize your agent to sign legal documents pertaining to the sale of your car during specific dates while you are on vacation. Or you can give your agent access to one bank account to pay your bills so that you can get help with that specific task without putting all of your assets into the hands of someone else.
I can also set up a power of attorney so that it only takes effect if a doctor declares that you are legally incapacitated and unable to make or communicate your own decisions. This is referred to as a “springing” power of attorney because it “springs” into action when it’s needed, but has no power until that time.
Protect Your Future with a California Power of Attorney
Many people make plans for their death by creating a will, trust, and other estate planning documents, but they do not consider what would happen if an accident or illness left them unconscious. If you were to become incapacitated, your family might have no choice but to go to court to seek guardianship over your finances, and that is a long and expensive legal process. If you have a durable power of attorney ready, then your agent can take over if it becomes necessary.
I can create a durable power of attorney that meets California legal requirements and grants the exact specific powers you want to provide. I can also prepare a medical power of attorney to permit your agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
If you’d like to learn more about how a power of attorney can protect your autonomy and make life easier for your family, I’d be happy to talk to you about it. Just reach out. I don’t bite, and your consultation is free.