Powers of Attorney

Powers of Attorney: Why are they important?

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 estate 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.judge signing a document next to his gavel

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 an Arizona 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 residents to grant another adult or group of adults.

  • Durable Power of Attorney: 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.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney: Allows the principal to have someone they trust make decisions regarding what healthcare they should receive if they are unable to make those decisions on their own. They would also allow them to be able to make decisions regarding the principal’s funeral, burial, or cremation services after their death.
  • Mental health Power of attorney so that agents can make decisions regarding their mental health care if they are ever incapable of doing so themselves.

 The Duties of an Agent Given Power of Attorney

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
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Is a Trust-Based or a Will-Based Estate Plan Best for you and your needs?

 Trust BasedWill-Based
Living Trust (Basic has outright distributions only and same distribution for both spouses; Standard and Premium include protective trusts for heirs; see below)x x
Pour-over Will(s)xx
Property Agreement (If married)x 
Deed, Transfer Letters and Assignment
(may be additional charge for more than one deed)
x 
Durable Power of Attorney
(including latest Medi-Cal planning provisions)
xx
Advance Health Care Directivexx
HIPAA Authorizationxx
Notarization and Storage of Copiesxx
Free Checkup Meeting Every 3 Yearsxx
Free Consultation with Trustee at Disability and Deathx 
Sign with an Attorney (important protection!)xx