We like to look at the various different legal devices that are used in the field of estate planning in California so that we can provide our readers with a foundation of information. With this in mind, let’s examine the legal device called the power of attorney in San Jose California.
Empowering an Agent
With a power of attorney, you empower an agent or attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf in a legally binding manner. There are different types of powers of attorney.
Limited Power of Attorney
You may want someone to be able to act for you on a limited basis. For example, you may want a representative to act on your behalf while you are out of the country for a limited period of time.
Under these circumstances, you could create a limited power of attorney giving an agent limited authority to act on your behalf.
Circumstances that are even more limited may exist. Let’s say that you wanted to consummate a real estate transaction on the east coast, but you are here in northern California.
You could execute a limited power of attorney that gives a friend of yours on the east coast the power to act as your agent for just this one transaction.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney would give more sweeping authority to your agent or attorney-in-fact. With this type of power of attorney, the agent would be able to act on your behalf in a more comprehensive manner without specific limits.
If you execute a standard general or limited power of attorney, it would no longer be binding if you as the grantor or principal were to become incapacitated.
Durable Powers of Attorney
Durable powers of attorney are widely used in the field of estate planning because they do in fact remain in effect even if the grantor becomes incapacitated.
Estate planning and elder law attorneys help clients who want to be prepared for the eventualities of aging. A very significant percentage of people who reach an advanced age become unable to make their own personal, financial, and medical decisions.
Alzheimer’s disease has a lot to do with this reality. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that somewhere in the vicinity of 45 percent of people who are at least 85 years old have Alzheimer’s disease.
As we touched upon previously, durable powers of attorney will remain in effect even if the grantor becomes incapacitated. For this reason, you may want to include durable powers of attorney within your broader estate plan to account for the possibility of incapacity.
You can name agents that you trust to handle your financial and medical decision-making in the event of your incapacitation.
If you do nothing, a conservator could be appointed by a court to make decisions on your behalf. This individual may not be the person that you would have selected if you were capable of making your own choice.