Many people ask me what they can or cannot do when they hold a power of attorney for a family member or loved one. That is a good question! Often times, the person appointed power of attorney may not have any idea what that involves. The applicable language includes the person who creates the power of attorney, the "principal", and the person who is appointed to act on behalf of the principal, the "attorney-in-fact." So, for example, if I wanted to grant my next door neighbor authority to handle my finanicial affairs if I were unable to do so, I would be the principal, granting the power to the attorney-in-fact.
In California, there are generally two different types of power of attorney:
A general power of attorney, and a power of attorney for health care. They are different, and designed to accomplish two different things. The general power of attorney is designed to allow a third party to act in regard to a persons' financial affairs. For example, when a principal executes a general power of attorney, this document usually grants the attorney-in-fact the authority to contact financial institutions to conduct financial transactions, buy, sell or otherwise act in connection with real property, and handle any transactions involving money or property.
The power of attorney for health care grants the attorney-in-fact authority to make health care decisions on behalf of the principal, such as whether or not to treat a physical or mental condition, authorize an autopsy or direct what the medical treaters are to do with the principals remains.
Powers of attorney forms are very common in California, and there are specific statutory provisions regarding their use. A well drafted power of attorney can provide significant peace of mind to people who may be concerned about the management of their property if they are unable to manage their own affairs.
If you have any questions about the Power of Attorney in California, please contact our office.