What happens if I do not have a Power of Attorney?

Attorney Paris is experienced in Power of Attorney documents and is here to help

Attorney Paris is experienced in Power of Attorney documents and is here to help

 What is a Power of Attorney?

 General Durable Power of Attorney

When most people hear the term “Power of Attorney” they usually think of a General Durable Power of Attorney which is used to take care of financial issues.  Some people refer to this Power of Attorney as the “business power” because it is generally used to conduct one’s financial business.  This type of Power of Attorney is signed off on by a person, who is referred to as the “principal” in order to allow another person, usually called an “agent” or an “attorney-in-fact” to conduct the business of the principal.   Commonly couples will name each other as their first pick for agent and then name another trusted individual as a backup choice.

Health Care Power of Attorney

Another very common type of Power of Attorney is the Health Care Power of Attorney which is sometimes referred to as a “health care proxy.”   This Power of Attorney is “springing” in nature, which simply means that it only “springs” into action when the principal has been deemed incapacitated, which can be mental or physical incapacity.  This document is used to designate who the principal wants to speak on his or her behalf when the principal is unable to make their own medical decisions.  There are a number of designations that the principal makes in their Health Care Power of Attorney regarding end of life matters that help guide the principal’s loved ones.  Similar to the financial matters Power of Attorney, couples often name each other and list another trusted person to serve if their husband or wife is unavailable.

What happens if I do not have a Power of Attorney?

Depending on the circumstances, the lack of a Health Care Power of Attorney or General Durable Power of Attorney can result in the necessity of a Guardianship.  This can happen for any number of reasons having to do with the legal logistics involved in making health care decisions for another without proper authority or guidance.  The same issue is sure to come up if someone does not have the legal authority to deal with an incapacitated person’s finances.  When these documents are not in existence and they are needed, the incapacitated person’s family can be left in the unsure waters of the Court.  If there are disagreements regarding who believes they should be in charge then the Court process can become convoluted by litigation between the incapacitated person’s family members. 

Do I need a Power of Attorney?

Yes, everyone should have their Powers of Attorney.  If you want to be sure your wishes regarding your medical care are followed or simply want the bills to be paid when you are not able, then you need Powers of Attorney in place to prevent the necessity of a Guardianship proceeding. 

If you do not have your Powers of Attorney and would like to learn more, our estate planning attorneys will take the time to get to know you and your particular situation in order to give you the best advice as to a good choice of an agent or an attorney-in-fact. 

If you would like to read more about picking agents for your Powers of Attorney, you can read Attorney Morneau’s Blog, “Power of Attorney – Two Forms You Need” by clicking here.

We serve the Greater Nashua area and are here to help.  To meet with one of our experienced attorneys, please click here to contact us or call us today at (603) 943-5647.