Power of attorney is legal authority that you give to an individual to handle your legal and medical affairs in case you become incapacitated legally, mentally, or medically and cannot tend to these issues yourself.

The designated person does not have to be a lawyer. Often, they are a close friend or family member, and they can even be an organization. This person whom you designate is called an attorney-in-fact.

There are different kinds of power of attorney privileges: general, special, durable, and health care are the most common kinds. A general power of attorney gives the designated person or entity the broadest authority over your interests. Someone who possesses a general power of attorney has power to handle business issues, financial issues, insurance matters, legal claims, gifts and donations, and hiring related to executing these interests.

Special power of attorney privileges are simply more specific. For instance, you can designate a special power of attorney to handle real estate, address debts owed to you or debts or you need to pay, or to manage specific business interests on your behalf. A health care power of attorney is specific to medical issues.

A durable power of attorney is specifically for the mentally incapacitated, as it lasts until the person’s death regardless of what happens to the person. Individuals suffering from an illness that they know will later affect their mental functioning will want a durable power of attorney to act on their behalf.

How Can I Create a Power of Attorney?

?First, you have to select what kind of power of attorney best suits your needs. The type of power of attorney and what kinds of rights you intend to sign over depend upon your foreseeable needs and what you think may happen to you in the future. For instance, you need to consider if you are likely to encounter serious health problems soon or if you are going to be unable to handle your affairs for another reason, such as being out of the country for an extended period of time.

Once you have selected your power of attorney, you will want to consider if you want only one agent or multiple agents acting on your own behalf. Sometimes, too many people can make legal issues more complicated. Other times, multiple people can keep each other in check and provide balance. Regardless of how many people or who you select to be your agent, it is imperative that you trust this person or these people completely before signing over rights to them.

Do I Need a Power of Attorney Form?

After you have selected the person to whom you want to grant power of attorney and discussed the specifics of the agreement with them, you will need to sign a power of attorney form. There are template forms that can be used as a guide, but it is always best to get legal advice from a lawyer to ensure that the document that you intend to use to convey the power of attorney to another meets all of your requirements and is legally binding.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Yes. Power of attorney grants the right to your designated agent to make the most sensitive decisions of your life for you. It is important to get an estate lawyer to prepare and review the forms for accuracy and legal authority.