Torrance Powers of Attorney
Ensure that your wishes are carried out by granting legal authority to someone you trust
Creating an estate plan means having all the documents in place that your family will need should tragedy strike. This includes not only trusts, beneficiary designations, and guardianship documents, but also the selection of an individual to make decisions on your behalf. By creating a durable power of attorney, you can rest assured that decisions about your finances will be handled by someone—whether it’s a member of your family, a close friend, or a trusted professional—whom you know will do what’s best for you if you become incapacitated.
At the Torrance estate planning law firm Samuel Ford Law, we have been helping South Bay families prepare end-of-life documents and legal instruments for over ten years. We know that this is no one’s favorite subject to consider, but we also know how important it is to be fully prepared for a serious accident, illness, or incapacity. There’s more to estate planning than allocating property and financial gifts to your loved ones, including the creation of a Torrance power of attorney so that important decisions can be made on your behalf if you become unable to make them. Let an estate planning professional at Samuel Ford Law in Los Angeles County’s South Bay help you create a complete estate plan, not just a last will and testament.
What can someone with power of attorney do on my behalf?
A power of attorney is a legal way of handing over decision-making authority to someone you trust. A power of attorney grants a person (the “agent”) designated by the principal (the creator of the document) the power to make legal and financial decisions on the principal’s behalf. While a power of attorney typically becomes active when someone is no longer able to understand and make important decisions without help, a principal can choose to authorize a family member or friend with power of attorney at any time. The amount of power and the scope of decision-making ability that the agent has will depend on the type of power of attorney given to the agent by the principal.
In California, there are three levels of power that a principal can grant to an agent acting on their behalf through a power of attorney:
- Durable power of attorney: A durable power of attorney, if properly drafted, will allocate decision-making power to an agent in designated areas of the principal’s affairs. A durable power of attorney may be active as soon as the principal signs the document granting power of attorney, remaining active until the principal revokes it. Alternately, it may be what’s known as a “springing” power of attorney, which means that the agent’s ability to make legal and financial decisions on the principal’s behalf arises only after the occurrence of a given event, such as a doctor’s conclusion that the principal is no longer capable of making important decisions without help.
- Limited power of attorney: A principal can limit the power of attorney granted to an agent either by duration or subject matter. For example, if the principal is undergoing major surgery and will be under anesthesia for an extended period, the principal may grant power of attorney to the agent until they have awoken post-surgery. Another example might be a principal who grants power of attorney to an agent with regards to a certain business deal or negotiation that the agent will conduct on the principal’s behalf. Once the business deal in question has concluded, the limited power of attorney will terminate automatically.
- General power of attorney: This is the broadest form of power of attorney which grants wide-ranging financial and legal decision-making authority to the agent that the principal selects. California law specifically excludes certain powers, which are deemed to have a high potential for abuse, from a general power of attorney unless those powers are expressly contained within the document itself. However, if you use the statutory form power of attorney, which is freely available from many places, those potentially abusive powers are not excluded. It is imperative that you discuss the creation of a power of attorney with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning professional to avoid granting unintended powers to your agent.
Why do I need a power of attorney?
Having a power of attorney in place is a crucial component of any complete estate plan. Even if you are young and vital, it is impossible to predict when you might be incapacitated—even temporarily—and would want someone you trust to be able to make decisions on your behalf. Additionally, your loved ones may need the help of someone with power of attorney in order to access certain financial accounts, such as an IRA.
Get the right Power of Attorney for your needs with the help of an experienced Torrance Estate Planning Lawyer
Learn more about the importance of including a power of attorney in your California estate plan by contacting the Torrance offices of Samuel Ford Law for a consultation.