Someone holding power of attorney has the right to make financial, legal, and medical decisions on behalf of another person in the event the individual becomes incapacitated and unable to decide for him or herself. However, power of attorney strictly for financial or medical purposes does not assign total legal rights to the petitioner. Understanding the powers of attorney is a vital part of estate planning. Below, the estate planning lawyers at Hendershot, Cannon, Martin & Hisey, P.C. have outlined the various forms power of attorney can take.
Typically, a medical power of attorney is assigned to a third party, other than a spouse, in order to make final decisions about medical treatment in the event the patient or spouse is incapacitated or incapable of making the decision. Prior advance health care directives signed by the individual typically take precedent over the power of attorney. In many cases, the petitioner is an adult child of an elderly parent or parents.
Durable financial power of attorney is used to give the agent the power to make financial and other legal decisions on behalf of the principal. The financial power of attorney is not the same as conservatorship. The POA does not typically grant the holder access to financial accounts, unless the holder is listed as a co-owner of the accounts. Durable financial POA helps families avoid court proceedings when a loved one has been rendered unable to make sound financial decisions. The agent in charge of their accounts is obligated to handle all large and small financial decisions-from ensuring bills are paid to making sounds investment decisions on the principal's behalf. Individuals with this responsibility are required to act solely in the interest of the principal, keep accurate records, and ensure that all property is kept separate from the agent's assets.
Power of attorney does not mean that the holder has total control over every area of the person's medical or financial life. It can be assigned to cover every contingency-or be limited to very specific areas of concern. In essence, it can be shaped to meet the needs of your circumstances. If you are ready to assign a power of attorney for medical or financial reasons to someone, talk to Hendershot, Cannon, Martin & Hisey. We will provide a full explanation of the benefits and give clear options for what is best for you and your family. Our attorneys can also help remove or change a power of attorney you have assigned, if circumstances have changed.
We represent individuals and families with elder law and estate planning needs in communities throughout Texas. Contact us to arrange a consultation with an experienced lawyer at our firm today.