Estate planning involves many actions you can take to protect your assets, transfer them to your heirs, and safeguard the future of your wealth. However, if you become incapacitated physically or mentally, you will likely want someone to make important decisions for you. While guardianship and conservatorship arrangements are viable options, the court appoints a guardian or conservator after you are already incapacitated. This might mean that you end up with the wrong person making important decisions on your behalf.
Instead, powers of attorney are powerful arrangements that allow you to choose your agent or attorney-in-fact. For instance, you could select a loved one or close friend to protect your estate. This person could stand in for you once or handle your financial responsibilities indefinitely. If you or a loved one need someone to make decisions for you, an O’Fallon power of attorney lawyer could explain how these arrangements work and help you craft the ideal plan. Our estate planning attorneys are ready to help you protect your best interests.
Power of Attorney Documents Explained
The person who drafts a power of attorney (POA) and accepts representation from an “attorney-in-fact” is known as the principal. The attorney-in-fact is also known as an agent. The principal can designate an attorney-in-fact to represent them in many situations, from buying an automobile to handling financial matters.
However, some duties are off limits. For instance, the principal cannot authorize the attorney-in-fact to make or alter a last will and testament or a living will. Some people are also barred from serving as attorneys-in-fact, including:
- People younger than 18
- Those of unsound mind
- A primary physician or employee in a health care facility where the principal is a patient
- A sitting judge, an employee of the Missouri Department of Social Services or Department of Mental Health, or a court clerk, unless the party is related to the principal
A dedicated lawyer in O’Fallon could help a principal confirm that their choice of agent will result in a valid power of attorney.
Types of Power of Attorney
Estate planners can use different types of power of attorney to accomplish a range of goals. General, financial, and healthcare powers of attorney all protect at-risk individuals in various ways.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney is an ideal choice for allowing someone to make a one-time action, such as assigning signatory duties or a real estate transaction to an attorney-in-fact. An O’Fallon lawyer could help draft the most impactful general power of attorney possible.
Financial Power of Attorney
Meanwhile, many individuals use a financial POA while planning their estate because it authorizes an agent to handle investments and daily financial transactions in the event of incapacitation. A principal usually establishes a financial POA when they anticipate illness or mental/physical decline due to aging.
Power of Attorney for Healthcare
Finally, just as principals can use a POA for financial matters, they can use a separate healthcare one to entitle another agent to make medical decisions on their behalf. Legal representation could help with drafting a healthcare POA if necessary.
Call an O’Fallon Power of Attorney Lawyer for Legal Guidance
Estate planning is complex, and you might implement many different types of documents depending on your situation. If you are in the process of planning your estate, you should consider the benefits of a power of attorney. These documents entitle another individual to make important decisions if you become ill or incapacitated.
If you have questions about how general, healthcare, or financial powers of attorney work, a dedicated legal team member can serve as a valuable resource. Call an O’Fallon power of attorney lawyer to get started on preparing for the future.