A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants another person (your “agent”) the exclusive power to make decisions concerning your finances and property. This should be someone that you trust to act in your best interests, and choosing your agent is not a decision to take lightly.
A San Luis Obispo power of attorney lawyer at Toews Bio & Abram, Inc. can help you make the best possible decisions regarding your POA. Our experienced estate planning attorneys are happy to explain the legal impact of these documents and help you draft paperwork that has the desired legal effect.
The Legal Concept of a Power of Attorney
Under normal circumstances, only individuals themselves have the authority to make decisions concerning their finances and property. However, this changes when a person willingly signs a power of attorney.
Parties who hold a power of attorney over another have the full legal authority to take control of that person’s financial affairs. This may include:
- Paying bills and taxes
- Purchasing property
- Selling assets
- Obtaining a place to live
It is essential to remember that a typical power of attorney does not grant the holder the right to make medical decisions. These are separate documents that have their own legal requirements.
According to state law, a power of attorney is only valid if the maker has the intent to create this power. In addition, the document must contain either the signature of two witnesses or the acknowledgment of a notary public who observed the maker sign the document. For a power of attorney to effectively apply to real property decisions, a notary acknowledgment is required. A San Luis Obispo lawyer can help you draft a power of attorney document that has the intended legal effect.
Versions of Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is both general and durable unless the document states otherwise. This means that the POA grants the agent the ability to act as they see fit subject to the agent’s fiduciary responsibility. According to California Probate Code § 4450, this includes the ability to buy and sell property, engage in legal action, and pay bills and taxes. It also means that the document will remain in effect until either the creator’s death or the creator specifically revokes the power, even if the creator loses his or her decision-making capacity.
By contrast, a specific power of attorney serves a specific function. For instance, a person may be out of the country for an extended period of time and authorize another to sell their house on their behalf. Here, the documentation must explicitly state that the power of attorney is for this express purpose.
Powers of attorney may also carry limitations based on time. Here, the holder has full authority as attorney-in-fact, but only for a certain amount of time. A power of attorney lawyer can help individuals in San Luis Obispo decide which versions of these documents are right for them.
Let a Power of Attorney Lawyer in San Luis Obispo Protect Your Finances
Situations can arise that motivate you to give another party the ability to act on your behalf. Enacting a power of attorney gives a trusted person the ability to handle your finances. Because powers of attorney are so powerful, you should only enact these documents only after fully understanding their impacts and limitations.
A San Luis Obispo power of attorney lawyer is here to assist you during this time. An experienced member of our team at Toews Bio & Abram, Inc. can explain the legal impact of these documents, identify your specific goals, and craft documents that make those goals a reality while limiting potential exposure to harm or abuse. Contact us today to get started.