Financial and medical powers of attorney

“I want to give my daughter permission to make medical and financial decisions in the event that I can’t. What forms do I need to file, and how to get those forms?”

There are two documents, generally, to achieve this objective:

(1) General Durable Financial Power of Attorney

(2) Healthcare POA & Advance Healthcare Directive

The second one (healthcare) you can obtain online or from an attorney, while the first one you should only get from an attorney.

Definition – Power-of-Attorney (POA).  Generally, a power of attorney is a legal document that one person (principal) issues to give another person (agent) the power to act for the principal. The POA can give the agent a very broad legal authority, or it can be very limited. The power of attorney is frequently used in the event of a principal’s illness or disability, or when the principal can’t be present to sign necessary legal documents for financial transactions.

GENERAL DURABLE FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY

You should contact a lawyer about this financial POA, because you need to be aware of the risks of giving someone broad power to make decisions about your property and finances.

As the “Principal” you are using this power of attorney to grant power to another person (called the Agent) to make decisions about your property and to use your property on your behalf. Under this power of attorney, you give your Agent broad and sweeping powers to sell or otherwise dispose of your property without notice to you. Under this document your Agent will continue to have these powers after you become incapacitated. The powers that you give your Agent are explained more fully in the Maine Uniform Power of Attorney Act, Maine Revised Statutes, Title 18-A, Article 5, Part 9. You have the right to revoke this power of attorney at any time as long as you are not incapacitated. If there is anything about this power of attorney that you do not understand you should ask a lawyer to explain it to you.

Durable.  A “Durable” POA means that your Agent will continue to have these powers after you become incapacitated.

Effective immediately or after incapacitation (springing). 

  • Immediate – Your agent’s authority becomes effective immediately (on the day you sign the document) and co-exists with your own financial powers, which means that you do NOT surrender your ability to make financial decisions.
  • Springing – Your agent’s authority becomes effective only after a physician or a court determines that you are not able or competent (illness, age, etc.) to make decisions.

Revocation of Power of Attorney.  You have the right to revoke this power of attorney at any time as long as you are not incapacitated. You should do so in writing and ensure all banks and businesses are aware.

HEALTHCARE POA & ADVANCE DIRECTIVE

You have the right to name someone else to make health-care decisions for you (healthcare power of attorney).  You also have the right to give instructions about your own health care (advance directive).

  • Part 1, Power of Attorney for Health Care.  You identify the person (and an alternate) as your agent to make health-care decisions for you if you become incapable of making your own decisions or if you want someone else to make those decisions for you now even though you are still capable.
  • Part 2, Instructions for Health Care.  Provides your specific instructions to your agent and your healthcare providers about your health care and your wishes.

Where to get this form:

Please read the instructions to ensure that you complete and sign the document properly.  They need to be witnessed and notarized.

Finally, to find an attorney in your area, search on the internet for an attorney who practices “estate planning” or “elder” law.

Todd Crawford, Esq.