California Power of Attorney
Southern California Estate Planning Lawyer Serving Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Whittier & Beyond
What exactly is a power of attorney? It sounds fancy, but all it is is a legal document that gives another person the legal authority to act on your behalf or make decisions for you. Now you may be wondering, why on Earth would I want to do that? I’ll explain why here, and you’ll understand why a California power of attorney is an important part of your California estate planning. If you need help with a California probate, call me NOW for your FREE consultation.
What Does a Power of Attorney Do?
When you give someone a power of attorney, the become your “attorney-in-fact,” but the simplest way to think about a power of attorney is just to think of that person as your agent. Suppose you wanted to buy a car or piece of property but didn’t feel qualified to negotiate the terms of the deal. You could hire someone to act as your agent and represent you. They would act on your behalf and could even close the deal, binding you to whatever terms they negotiated.
A power of attorney is the same thing. When you grant a power of attorney in your estate plan, though, you are not giving them the power to act as your agent for one specific purpose, such as to handle a real estate deal. Instead, a power of attorney gives the other person broad powers to act on your behalf. They could pay your bills, make deposits for you, sign checks, or yes, buy and sell property.
You can give somebody power of attorney any time you want to, but you are most likely to want a power of attorney in place if you become disabled or incapacitated and can’t handle your financial or legal matters on your own. That’s when you want someone you know and trust to step in and help out.
A simple power of attorney will last until you revoke it or you become disabled. A power of attorney can also be made “durable,” meaning it will last through any period of incapacity. That’s why most people include a power of attorney in their estate plan, to enable somebody to carry on their affairs if they become incapable of doing it themselves.
You have to create the power of attorney now, though, before you become incapacitated (as they say on TV, while you are of “sound mind”). A power of attorney does not have to be effective now, though. Instead, you can make it “springing,” so that it will only spring into effect if you become disabled. A springing durable power of attorney usually makes the most sense from an estate planning point of view.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Power of Attorney?
Somebody is going to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t do it. A California judge will pick someone to be your guardian or conservator, but it might not be the person you would have chosen. Your family might disagree over who this person should be and argue with each other at home and in court, taking up time, money, and creating hurt feelings that can last forever. You can avoid this problem by choosing in advance who you want to have power of attorney for you.
A power of attorney can cover more than just managing your property and personal affairs. You can also create a power of attorney over your healthcare. In California, this is typically known as an Advance Health Care Directive. You can also create legal documents such as a living will that sets out what kinds of medical treatment you would or would not want to have, including end-of-life decisions to prolong or not prolong your life if you are in a coma or terminally ill, for instance. Your estate plan can even say whether you want to be buried or cremated, where you want to be buried, and so forth. Without these documents in place, you leave your loved ones anguishing over these decisions, trying to make the best choice, and often arguing over what you would want or what they want for you.
Call The Probate Guy for Help With a Power of Attorney in Orange, Riverside, Anaheim, Fullerton and all of Southern California
When you are creating or updating your estate plan, make sure it includes a complete set of powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives and living wills. These documents are crucial to protecting you and ensuring your estate plan is effective and complete. For help with estate planning or probate in Southern California, call me at 714-522-8880. I work throughout Southern California, including but not limited to Anaheim, Buena Park, Cerritos, Compton, Downey, Fullerton, Gardena, La Mirada and Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego. It doesn’t really matter where you are, because I can handle your probate entirely over the phone, mail and e-mail. I’ll even go to court for you, so you never have to leave the house to come to my office or go to court. CALL NOW to get started with a FREE consultation.