The power of an attorney is a document that allows you to appoint someone to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. There are different types, which give a different level of control to the person depending on the circumstances. You can appoint multiple agents, but then you would have to decide if these agents should jointly or separately make decisions. This has the potential to cause arguments or disagreements.
It is important to note, a power of attorney document is only valid if you are competent when you sign it.
There is a general power of attorney, a special power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney, and a durable power of an attorney. Each plays a different role and has a different authority.
A general power of attorney has broad power to act on another person's behalf. They can handle financial and business transactions, settle claims, buy life insurance, employee professional help, and more. This method is useful if one person will be out of the country, or if they have become physically or mentally unable of managing affairs. This power of attorney is often included in estate plans.
A special power of attorney is a lot more specific. It specifies exactly what powers a person may exercise. Usually someone will appoint a special power of attorney to handle certain affairs if they have other commitments, or if their health does not allow them to fulfill the task. An example of matters that are usually handled by a special power of attorney are selling property, managing real estate, collecting debts, or handling other business transactions.
A healthcare power of attorney allows your agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unconscious, mentally unable to, or any other reason why you would not be able to make your medical decisions on your own. You definitely want to make sure that the person you make your agent has your best interest in mind. Usually people will pick a family member. You want to make sure that this agent would make a similar decision as you about certain medical aspects if you were conscious and able to make the decision for yourself. Many states do allow you to make your own decision in regards to life support, if you were in that scenario.
A durable power of attorney is a safeguard. This becomes handy in a situation where you have become or will become mentally incompetent due to an illness or accident. A doctor will determine if you are or are not mentally incompetent. That is when the power of attorney will go into effect.
When you are choosing a person to be your agent for your power of attorney, you definitely want to make sure you pick someone you trust. You want to pick someone who will respect your wishes, and someone who would make decisions that you would want to be made. The person who is chosen as an agent must keep accurate records of all transactions done on your behalf. They must be able to keep you informed. You do not want to choose someone who might abuse their powers. If you are in a situation where someone you know may be taken advantage of, it is important to report this behavior to law enforcement or a lawyer.
When you choose someone, you must make sure that you sign and notarize the original document and certify several copies. Banks and businesses must receive a copy in order for agents to act on another's behalf. You are able to revoke a power of attorney at any time. All you need to do is notify your agent in writing and retrieve all copies of your power of attorney. Notify anyone who would need to know. It is important to understand what a power of attorney is as well as what control that they do have if you were in a situation where you needed assistance.
Source: Legal Zoom