Sure, while most people would prefer to make their own decisions regarding what healthcare they receive and to take care of their finances personally. Stop to think what happens when that person becomes incapacitated, meaning they are not able to make decisions for themselves. Maybe they are in the hospital or ill and not conscious, who can act during that time?
Our trust and estates lawyers get calls almost weekly from good people who have a loved one in the hospital or with a medical or physical condition where they are not able to make decisions for themselves and they need to act on their behalf. If a person does not have the power of attorney documents already in place choosing an individual(s) and laying out the written authority to act, then the family or concerned friend has to resort to going to the Probate Court and seeking what’s called a Guardianship and/or Conservatorship to get granted decision-making ability. This can be costly, time consuming and is not immediate.
To avoid this and to ensure your wishes are met, everyone over the age of 18 should have a Medical and Financial Power of Attorney in place. If you want to ensure your power of attorney documents are comprehensive and enforceable, it is in your best interests to work with a qualified estate planning attorney, like our Firm. Help from a Chandler power of attorney lawyer could be crucial in making sure your best interests are prioritized and your wishes are respected should a worst-case scenario arise.
There are three different types of powers of attorney that Arizona state law allows Chandler residents to grant another adult or group of adults. The most basic and common form is a durable power of attorney. Under Arizona Revised Statutes §14-5501, a principal grants the power of attorney to an agent, allowing them to make financial decisions on the principal’s behalf if they ever become incapacitated or disabled. Unless a specific termination date is established, durable powers of attorney remain in effect indefinitely.
A principal may also grant a health care power of attorney to someone whom they trust to make decisions regarding what healthcare they should receive if they are unable to make those decisions on their own. As per A.R.S. §36-3221, agents given health care powers of attorney may also make decisions regarding the principal’s funeral, burial, or cremation services after their death.
Finally, A.R.S. §36-3281 allows principals to establish mental health powers of attorneys so that agents can make decisions regarding their mental health care if they are ever incapable of doing so themselves. A compassionate lawyer could help an individual in Chandler create and invoke any of these powers of attorney in accordance with their wishes.
Once a power of attorney goes into effect, say upon a person’s incapacity, the designated agent has a fiduciary duty to the principal. This means that they must keep the principal’s assets separate from their own, keep separate records of all actions they take on the principal’s behalf, and always act in accordance with the principal’s express wishes and/or best interests when making any decision regarding their assets.
Any power of attorney agent who disobeys the wishes of the principal may face civil liability for up to three times the amount of monetary damages resulting from their misconduct, as well as charges for criminal theft. While the choice of who to grant power of attorney to belongs solely to the principal, a power of attorney lawyer in Chandler could provide guidance about any legal implications that may play into that decision.
Doing this type of long term care planning ahead of time and choosing a person or persons the authority to act as your power of attorney over you if you become incapacitated is an incredibly consequential but should be an important component of every person’s overall estate planning.
Avoid the stress, confusion and high costs of inaction and call our Chandler Power of Attorney Lawyers today for a free no-stress consultation and to get your questions answered.