A power of attorney gives another person the legal authority to make certain decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make the decisions or manage your finances on your own. Many families come to us because their loved ones just had a stroke or now have dementia and are struggling to manage their own decisions about health care, banking, and other aspects of their everyday lives. Others recognize that a recent diagnosis or an upcoming surgery may require outside help, particularly with decisions about medical treatment.
When to Sign a Power of Attorney
There will come a point in almost every person’s life when they need a power of attorney. Even if you are young and healthy, or just need someone to help you manage financial affairs while you are out of town, there are many reasons you might need a power of attorney. No matter your situation, we can help you draft the proper powers of attorney, and choose the trusted parties you want making decisions on your behalf, if necessary.
You can only put a valid power of attorney in place when you are mentally competent enough to understand the document when you sign it. If you have a diagnosis of dementia or a similar condition, we suggest to have your doctor verify you are competent enough to make this type of decision.
This also means we cannot put a power of attorney in place for your aging loved ones if they are suffering from impaired mental competency. We do, however, have other options for ensuring you can name someone to make his decisions for him, including guardianship or conservatorship.
Putting it in Writing
Powers of attorney are legal documents, and require much more than a signature and notarization. Many people try to draft these documents based on an online template or other general form, but this generally is not a good idea. At Bratton Scott, our team of attorneys, social workers, and a registered nurse works with your family to ensure you get the exact document you need and want. We provide:
- An explanation of the powers it grants the agent you choose
- Information about when these powers go into effect
- Counseling and support in choosing the right agent
- A written draft of your document
- The completed paperwork, including several certified copies
There are several types of powers of attorney available, allowing you to choose different parties to make your financial, medical, or other types of decisions. Or you can choose one agent to handle all of this. We will help you understand what you need, and provide the proper documentation.
Choosing the Right Agent
One of the most important aspects of executing a power of attorney is choosing the right agent. We offer counseling to you and your family to help you make this decision, and offer advice on discussing the job with your chosen agent. It is paramount you choose someone you trust who will put your best interests and your personal wishes first. This agent might be making decisions that could affect your health, quality of life, and financial standing. Often, this is a family member or close friend.
Your agent will need to keep a file about the transactions she performs and any decisions she makes on your behalf. She will need to update you about her actions when you become able to make your own decisions again, or update others who have a stake in your care if you are not able to receive and review these updates. We can explain this obligation to the person you choose, as well as explain the legal protections she receives through the power of attorney.
In most cases, we recommend naming an agent and a backup, just in case. This is especially true if the agent is older or your diagnosis means you may need someone to provide decision making services for an extended period of time. This allows the alternative agent to step in if the primary agent is unavailable for some reason, such as her own illness.
Revoking Power of Attorney
On occasion, some people do need to revoke a power of attorney. You can do this at any time, and for any reason. Some of the most common reasons include divorce, death of the agent, or another health complication that would prevent the agent from performing the required duties.
We can help you revoke the power of attorney, and put a new one in place. All we need to do is notify the agent in writing, and request any certified copies of your power of attorney. You will need to let your bank and doctor know, as well as anyone else who may have received a copy of your power of attorney.
We Can Help You Draft the Power of Attorney You Need
Bratton Scott has a full legal team, including attorneys, social workers and a registered nurse. We are ready to help you with any concerns you have about your own future care, or the quality of life of a loved one. We get to know each client and their family as individuals, and listen when you tell us your priorities and what you need from us. We can offer all types of power of attorney, as well as life planning, advocacy, and other services.
Call our office today at 856-857-6007 to schedule a consultation.