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What are powers of attorney and how do I use them?

Who would take over your finances and health care decisions if you were unable to due to medical reasons? While most people do not want to think about this kind of thing, it is a question that answering can be helpful to families during unexpected and stressful life events. It is also where power of attorney comes in.

If you have heard this term before but you are unsure what it is, you are not alone. To be clear, a power of attorney is a legal document and recognition that allows one individual to make financial and health care decisions for another who is no longer able to.

Types of power of attorney

When it comes to estate planning, establishing power of attorney can be a smart move for the future. Nonetheless, many individuals overlook it until they need it later down the road. Power of attorney options include:

  • Non-durable power of attorney
  • A durable power of attorney
  • Special or limited power of attorney (such as finances)
  • A medical power of attorney
  • Springing power of attorney

The type that is best for you will depend on your individual needs and circumstances.

How to use the power of attorney

How to use power of attorney depends on which type of power of attorney is in question. With a springing power of attorney, for example, the legal role becomes effective in the future and only after incapacitation occurs. On the other hand, non-durable or limited powers of attorney can vary. Professional legal help can simplify these processes.

When planning your estate, power of attorney can serve a useful purpose. It may be worth keeping in mind as you think about your future.

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