There are many reasons residents of California seek out power of attorney(POA). If you have an older parent with dementia who struggles to act on their own, POA is a way to assure decisions that need to be made are made soundly. If you are being deployed, granting someone power of attorney can allow them to act for you in necessary areas while you are away. If you own a property and reside far away from it, you can grant POA so that someone who lives closer can manage your property for you. These are just a few instances in which the power of attorney becomes valuable. Most likely, you know why you need POA. The question is, how do you get it?
What Is Power Of Attorney?
POA is a legal document through which a person (aka agent) is appointed to make medical and financial decisions on a person’s (principal’s) behalf.
This seems simple in theory, but there are several types of POA, and that’s where things get a little confusing. When you add the different laws per state, things become very murky for those seeking legal help. Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri, a legal firm in San Jose, CA, can help clear things up for California residents by breaking down the types of POA.
What Are The Different Versions Of Power Of Attorney?
There are a few different types of POA. To get started, you need to determine which type is right for your situation.
- Durable – This document allows you to choose someone to act for you financially and medically, and grants decision making power regardless of future incapacitation. The incapacitation addendum for this specific document means that even if the principal becomes incapacitated, the document will remain valid.
An alternate version of this is the Springing POA in which the document only becomes active when the person becomes incapacitated.
- General – This is known as the financial power of attorney as it grants no power over medical decision making. This also differs from the durable POA because it has no incapacitation addendum. This means if the principal becomes incapacitated, the document will become void. This document is effective immediately.
- Limited – This document allows you to choose someone to act in your place for a specific or single duty. Once the duty is complete, the form becomes void. An example of this would be for a real estate transaction that is taking place. POA is only needed on a temporary basis for a very narrow and specific instance.
- Medical – This is also known as a Health Care POA. This grants decision making power for all medical reasons. It also has an incapacitation addendum. It only grants power if the principal is unable to make decisions for themself.
What Happens Next?
So, you’ve determined which document you need. What’s next? There are a couple of legal requirements to complete a power of attorney.
The agent must be 18 years old at least and mentally sound. They should also be someone you trust and can rely on to act in your best interests.
Many people wonder if the document needs to be notarized or witnessed. Based on California law, it can be either.
You can notarize a document for little cost. Some USPS locations now have notaries onsite. While it isn’t required, it is recommended to have real estate matters notarized for solid records.
Having a document witnessed can be a little more intricate. You must have 2 independent witnesses that are adults and mentally sound. The named agent of the POA cannot be a witness. For medical POAs, a healthcare provider or employee of the healthcare provider cannot be a witness either. Once you have your two witnesses, you must sign the document in the presence of the witnesses or you must go through a process known as acknowledgment. This can be as simple as signing the document and calling the witnesses over to say “I signed this. This is my signature.”
If you live in the greater Bay area, such as San Jose, and are in need of legal advice on POA, contact Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri. They offer free 30 minute consultations and can help you choose the right document for your situation. Set up your consultation here.