Why do I need a Power of Attorney?
A Power of attorney is a document which appoints another person to act on your behalf if you become incompetent or incapacitated generally as a result of an illness, such as a stroke, an accident, or advanced age. Many people do not realize that simply being married does not empower your spouse to have access to 100 percent of the financial assets or other assets of the marriage. Only with a power of attorney can he or she have full access to those assets which may be essential to care for you when you most need it.
A power of attorney is utilized by your agent (who may be your spouse) during your lifetime to assist you with your affairs. Upon your death the Power of Attorney is extinguished and the Executor of your Will takes over the administration of your affairs. A power of attorney can be as limited or as broad as you desire.
Without a power of attorney, you spouse will not be able to access your medical records or disclose them to others. He or she may not be able to be your medical advocate and make decisions for you. He or she will not have full access to your checking and savings accounts and will have no access to your investments.
A thorough power of attorney addresses many areas, the most common of which are as follows:
Banking: An agent may be authorized to draw checks, make withdrawals and deposits on any and all accounts and have access to any safe deposit box.
Medical care: To consent to any and all types of medical care, treatment, surgical procedures, diagnostic procedures, and medication and to have access to medical records and information. A Power of attorney does not give your agent the ability to discontinue medical care, only a Living Will can do that.
Real estate: to sell, transfer, assign, rent, manage or exchange any or all property or real estate. Repair, rebuild or reconstruct any buildings, extend, renew or replace any mortgage affecting my lands, obtain insurance of any kind.
Stock accounts: to sell transfer assign or exchange any or all shares of stock or securities in any corporation and to have access to retirement savings and investment funds.
Litigation: to sue for and recover upon any claims, to defend, settle, adjust, arbitrate, or resolve any suits, claims or actions whatsoever that I may have, to file proof of debt or take any other proceedings under the Bankruptcy Code to hire accountants, attorneys at law, workmen or others.
Gifts: To make gifts that qualify for the Gift Tax Exclusion provided by the Internal Revenue Code to my descendants, as the agent shall deem appropriate for your estate, to the extent that said gifts do not adversely affect your well being.
Social Security and Government benefits: To act as your representative payee and deal with the government for your benefits through homestead rebates, social security, income tax refunds, Medicare and the like.
Everyday affairs: get your mail, repair your home, handle your insurances, pay your bills, etc.