One key aspect of estate planning is the power of attorney. However, many people may not know what a power of attorney is, or how to obtain power of attorney. The American Bar Association explains that the power of attorney gives one or more persons the power to act as an agent on someone’s behalf. The rules and requirements around powers of attorney vary from state to state, which is why it may be helpful to speak with a local lawyer. If you have questions about how to obtain power of attorney, consider reaching out to a knowledgeable San Francisco, California, estate planning attorney at Von Rock Law by calling (866) 720-0195 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document granting someone else the right to make decisions on behalf of the principal, or the person who authorizes the document. This is a very important choice because it allows people to determine who will make decisions for them if they cannot make those decisions in the future.
Although a lawyer may not be required to create this document, experienced lawyers often play a critical role in helping to guide people through the process of properly drafting these legal documents and appointing a power of attorney. A power of attorney document must meet two main requirements:
- The document must be created of the author’s free will, and
- The document must be created while the author is of sound mind — he or she must not be sick or mentally incapacitated.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Power of Attorney?
A common question regarding how to obtain power of attorney is about the cost. The answer varies. There are different types of power of attorney. Some of the more common types include the following:
- General power of attorney, which gives broad authorization to someone to make medical, financial, legal, or business decisions
- Durable power of attorney, which provides the same authority as a general power of authority except that if the principal person dies or becomes incapacitated, the power of attorney is still in effect for the person to make necessary decisions
- Medical power of attorney, which grants someone authority to make medical decisions for the principal
- Special or limited power of attorney, which authorizes a person or persons to act on behalf of the principal for specific tasks, such as authorizing a real estate document
The cost of obtaining power of attorney will vary depending on the length and complexity of the document. However, some lawyers may charge a set fee for the service.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Power of Attorney?
Another common question about how to obtain power of attorney is about the time required to get a power of attorney. This also may vary depending on the length and complexity of the document. An estate planning attorney from Von Rock Law may be able to describe time frames according to your needs.
What Is the Best Power of Attorney to Have?
Many people choose to obtain a power of attorney, especially as they age. In the United States, many adults recognize the need to plan for the unexpected. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, over 80 percent of people 72 and older have estate-planning documents. However, when developing an estate plan, it helps to know the best power of attorney to have. There are different powers that a power of attorney can authorize, including:
- Buying or selling items for the principal
- Applying for public benefits
- Managing businesses
- Collecting debts
- Managing financial matters generally
In some cases, the principal, the person for whom the agent will be acting, may opt for broad language. In other cases, more specific language may be needed. The principal may provide the agent with “all powers” to manage financial affairs or to make health care decisions, or the document may only give specific powers. The best power of attorney document to have will depend on the situation and will be constructed to include the parameters that are right for you.
How To Obtain a Power of Attorney in California
Some key steps for how to obtain power of attorney documents in California include the following:
- Determine the type of power of attorney that is relevant to your situation. If you are obtaining a power of attorney for estate planning, it may make sense to get a medical power of attorney for health care and a general power of attorney for finances.
- Determine who will be the person who makes decisions on your behalf. Be sure to pick someone that you trust and speak to that person in advance. Include an alternate agent in the event the initial agent is not able or willing to act when needed.
- Decide what authority will be given to the person.
- Discuss your intentions with an attorney so that the power of attorney may be drafted pursuant to your intentions. A power of attorney should be signed and notarized.
- Provide a copy of the power of attorney to those who have been designated as agents and other key parties, such as banks or medical offices.
- Keep all documents associated with a power of attorney in a safe place along with other estate planning documents.
Throughout the process of obtaining a power of attorney, people may find it helpful to work with an attorney, as this important document can be complex. Carefully following the steps above may also help to avoid confusion and stress for loved ones when executing a power of attorney document later.
An Estate Planning Attorney May Be Able to Help
Thinking about how to obtain power of attorney documents may seem overwhelming. Some of the most common questions people have are about what kind of power of attorney is relevant to a given situation, what time frames they can expect for the document to be ready, and what costs to anticipate. Navigating legal processes can also sometimes be daunting. If you would like a guide through the estate planning process, including a power of attorney, consider contacting an experienced San Francisco estate planning attorney at Von Rock Law for a consultation today by calling (866) 720-0195.