When some people first learn about power of attorney, they become fearful that creating these documents will mean that they lose their decision-making rights. A power of attorney is an important estate planning tool, and one you need to understand fully. If you are worried that by creating a power of attorney you will lose some of your rights, taking the time to learn a bit more about this tool will help alleviate your fears.
Your Power of Attorney, Your Decision
Through a power of attorney you can designate an agent, also known as an attorney-in-fact, who will have the legal authority to make decisions for you. The authority you give the agent is entirely up to you.
For example, you can create a power of attorney that will give your agent the ability to buy real estate for you. In this type of power of attorney, the document will limit the agent’s ability to represent your interests. In other words, your agent can only do what you allow that person to do. You can place whatever limits or restrictions on the power of attorney that you wish.
Your Power of Attorney, Your Agent
Not only can you limit your agent’s ability to make decisions for you, but you also get to choose who your agent is. You do not have any legal obligation to create a power of attorney. If you choose to create a power of attorney, you are not legally obligated to choose one person, or organization, over another. Even though others might want you to appoint them as your agent, you can choose whomever you like.
For example, if you choose to make a durable power of attorney for healthcare, you might be inclined to choose your spouse or close relative to act as your medical representatives. However, if you believe someone else would be better suited to this role, you can choose that person instead. No one is legally entitled to be your agent because of their relationship to you.
Your Agent, Your Decision-Making Rights
An agent can make decisions in your place. When you create a power of attorney, you delegate your decision-making abilities to that agent. You can create a power of attorney that, should you lose your ability to make decisions, will automatically terminate the agent’s decision-making authority as well.
On the other hand, if you want your agent to act only after you have become incapacitated, you can create a power of attorney that allows you to do this. In the end, it’s important to remember that all decisions about the kind of power of attorney you create are entirely up to you to make.