No one can predict the future, but we can plan for it. For instance, we don’t know if we’ll get in an accident or sick in the coming months or years, but we can put vital protections in place that direct others on what to do if we are incapacitated.
One protection is power of attorney, and this designation can be crucial in certain situations.
First, what is power of attorney?
A power of attorney grants someone the authority to make decisions on your behalf. It does not strip you of your rights; it gives someone the authority to act alongside you. And you can revoke a power of attorney at any time, as long as you are mentally fit to make legal decisions.
There are different types of powers of attorney that come with different restrictions and responsibilities.
There are generally two types of powers of attorney in Colorado: medical and financial.
- Medical powers of attorney, also called a Power of Attorney for Health Care, allows someone to make medical decisions for you. You can direct them to make decisions regarding issues like acceptable medical treatments and nursing home care.
- Financial powers of attorney, also called a General Power of Attorney for Property, gives someone the authority to make financial decisions for you. These decisions may or may not include making withdrawals, paying bills, completing business transactions and cashing checks.
If these are durable POAs, they remain in place even if you are incapacitated.
These responsibilities go into effect either upon signing (standing POA) or when a specific event occurs (springing POA).
Events that can necessitate POA
With all this in mind, the following events can be times when a POA can make decisions:
- If you are in the military and deployed overseas
- If you get into an accident and are incapacitated
- If you are having surgery and will be under general anesthesia
- If you travel outside the U.S. frequently and need someone to be available to make decisions for you here
In these and similar circumstances, designating someone as your POA can give you the confidence of knowing that your financial, personal and medical decisions are in good hands if you cannot make them yourself.