Power of Attorney Documents
Understanding Power of Attorney documents is an important area of the law that can also be explained plainly and simply.
Before you sign a power of attorney document you should consult with an attorney. Power of Attorney documents usually give someone else control over your medical or financial decisions in an emergency. The goal of a Power of Attorney document is to have the right person help you when you cannot express your own wishes.
In most situations, Power of Attorney documents should be written so that the document is only effective upon your incapacity. You obviously want to make your own decisions if you are healthy and only if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to make decisions would you need someone else’s help.
There are some Power of Attorney documents that are limited to one particular circumstance such as the sale of property or a temporary stay in a hospital for a surgery. You can customize your power of attorney documents to your individual situation.
In Colorado it is common to have separate Power of Attorney documents for financial and for medical decisions. You can choose your Power of Attorney “agent” depending on who in your life may be better at finances and who might be better at dealing with medical issues.
When you choose your agent in your Power of Attorney document you should carefully consider someone you trust. This is usually a family member or close friend but it is your choice. Your spouse has certain legal rights regardless of who you choose as your Power of Attorney agent. Consulting with an attorney about these issues is always necessary.
Remember that Power of Attorney documents are revocable and amendable as long as you are capable. If you are diagnosed with a severe mental illness or are involved in an accident this might be more difficult, so keeping these documents updated is important.
Lastly, the person you choose in the Power of Attorney document has statutory priority to be your guardian/conservator if that is ever necessary. This is yet another reason why the right person should be named in these documents.