Why Do I Need A Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney allows someone you trust explicitly to act on your behalf. In short, you are appointing this individual as your agent to assist you when you are unable to perform necessary and important acts. Your agent should be a trusted spouse, adult child, relative, or close friend. But the mere fact someone is an immediate family member or close friend is not enough to appoint them as your agent. The key trait here is TRUST. Whether it be a cousin, niece, grandchild, or a friend, you must choose someone whom you trust and can act on your behalf. Also, keep in mind the person you appoint will have access to your personal financial information, so I cannot reiterate enough for the need to appoint the right person. The most common reason you would need a power of attorney is if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself.

There are various types of powers of attorneys:

Medical Power of Attorney – This allows the agent to take control over healthcare decisions that need to be made in the principal’s best interest.

Limited Non-Durable Power of Attorney – This grants an agent temporary authority to act on your behalf, usually only for specific transactions. The Non-Durable Power of Attorney only lasts a set period of time.

Durable Power of Attorney – With a valid POA, the trusted person you name will be legally permitted to take care of important matters for you (for example, paying your bills, managing your investments, or directing your medical care) if you are unable to do so yourself. Your durable POA ends at your death or when you revoke your current POA.

Statutory Power of Attorney– The Maryland General of Assembly created a specific kindof power of attorney called a “statutory form power of attorney.” If a person or institution refuses to honor a statutory power of attorney, that person may be held liable for the attorney’s fees incurred to get a court order that requires them to abide by the power of attorney.

An Advanced Healthcare Directive (Healthcare POA) provides instructions on your health care and what you want and do NOT want. It lets you give legal authority to another person (like your spouse or adult child) in advance to make any health care decision for you, including the use of life support, if you become unable to make them yourself. This document is much broader than a living will, and it can be legally enforced.

Too many times I have seen the wrong person appointed, but I can help you make the right decision. Contact me today for a free consultation to discuss the type of Power of Attorney you may need and who to best appoint to that role.