A comprehensive estate plan should include a power of attorney for health care and for finances. A power of attorney gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf.
A durable power of attorney grants legal rights the “principal” to an “attorney-in-fact.” The attorney-in-fact stands in the shows of the principal and acts for him or her on financial and business matters. It does not take any rights away from the principal. The attorney-in-fact can do whatever the principal can do, except as limited in the document.
This does not mean that the attorney-in-fact can take the principal’s money and run. The attorney-in-fact must use the principal’s financial as the principal would for his or her benefit.
Unless the power of attorney is “springing,” it takes effect as soon as it is signed by the principal. A “springing” power of attorney takes effect when the incapacity of the principal is certified by one or more physicians.
A healthcare power of attorney is a document signed by a competent person (the “principal”) giving another person (the “agent”) the authority to make healthcare decisions for the principal if he or she is unable to communicate such decisions.
In case you ever become incapacitated, it is important that someone has the legal authority to communicate your wishes concerning medical treatment. This is especially true if you were to disagree with family members or they were to disagree among themselves about your treatment. By executing a health care power of attorney, you ensure that the direction that you have given your agent will be carried out in the event of such disagreement.