What is power of attorney?

signing power of attorney document

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives a designated person the authority to make personal, business, legal, and medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.  It's advisable to have both medical and financial powers of attorney.  If you become unable to make decisions for yourself and you don't have to go to court to establish the right to make those decisions in your stead. 

A medical power of attorney allows someone to make medical decisions for you should you become physically or mentally incapacitated.  This person is bound to follow your treatment and end-of-life wishes.  It is important to create a living will to outline such wishes.  

A financial power of attorney designates an individual who will take care of financial decision-making on your behalf.  When you draft the document with your attorney, you can give your power of attorney broad power or limited power.  The duties of a financial power of attorney end at the designator's death.  If you wish an individual to take care of your estate finances, you must also name him or her as executor in your will.  

For more information on power of attorney, consult with a family law attorney.