Powers of Attorney & Advance Directives
At Sims & Campbell, we draft both durable general powers of attorney and advance directives for our clients. A power of attorney is a powerful legal document, and you should only sign one after speaking with an attorney knowledgeable in the field of estate planning.
Powers of Attorney
When you sign a power of attorney, you are appointing someone as your agent to act on your behalf. Your agent is bound to act in your best interest. If your agent abuses his or her power, the agent can be held legally accountable through the court system. It is critical that you designate an agent who has a history of acting responsibly, especially when it comes to finances.
Durable General Power of Attorney
Pursuant to this type of power of attorney, you appoint a person to manage your finances on your behalf. Because it is difficult to prove to a financial institution that a person is disabled, it is often best to have this power become effective upon signing, rather than upon disability. For this reason, it may not be advisable to give this power to your agent but rather let your agent know where he or she can find the power in the event that you become unable to manage your own affairs.
Advance Directive – Power of Attorney for Health Care/Living Will
The advance directive has the dual purpose of appointing someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself and expressing your preferences regarding artificial life support in the event of a terminal end-stage condition or persistent vegetative state. Advance directives are particularly important in the face of privacy laws that make it difficult for friends and family members to access your medical records or obtain medical information on your behalf.