Imagine a loved one is suddenly taken ill. In the emergency room, decisions must be made very quickly. The doctors want to know what treatments to give – or not give – but the patient can’t communicate. This is the type of critical occasion where a power of attorney comes into play.
The Power of Attorney.
In general, an individual uses a power of attorney to name someone to act on their behalf as an agent or attorney in fact. An agent can be given very specific duties to perform or the agent can be given broad powers. In a very limited power of attorney, an attorney-in-fact might have one duty, like representing the individual in a real estate transaction.
Types of Power of Attorney.
There are powers of attorney that address different needs.
A durable power of attorney gives very broad powers to the agent and continues even if the principal becomes disabled, incompetent, or incapacitated. This power of attorney does not apply to health care decisions. You may allow an agent to access your medical records and may nominate someone to act as conservator or guardian if necessary.
A healthcare power of attorney allows you to authorize someone to make decisions about your medical treatments if you are not able to do so. Make sure your agent knows your beliefs on medical treatment, including long-term care and end-of-life care.
According to Alabama law, a valid power of attorney includes the following words:
- “This power of attorney shall not be affected by disability, incompetency, or incapacity of the principal” or
- “This power of attorney shall become effective upon the disability, incompetency, or incapacity of the principal.”
The first option means the power of attorney remains in effect if you become incapacitated. The second option means the power of attorney goes into effect only after incapacity. If you don’t sign a power of attorney and later become unable to make your own decisions, it’s likely that a court will be in control of who makes decisions for you.
It’s important to remember that the person signing the power of attorney controls when the power of attorney becomes effective and what responsibilities the agent will be given.
Control Your Future Now.
A power of attorney speaks for you when you can’t speak for yourself. Have you signed a power of attorney yet? Your healthcare providers and family shouldn’t have to guess how you feel about medical treatment and financial transactions. Schedule a free consultation with the attorneys at Adams Miller, LLP. Our attorneys know how to help people like you. Just give us a call at 256-251-2137 or use our Contact Form to set up an appointment. Serving clients in the greater Anniston area, including Birmingham, Talladega, and Gadsden.