Understanding Power of Attorney

Our Arizona lawyers can help you create a plan

In the estate planning process, here's one of the most important questions to address: Who is going to make decisions on your behalf when you cannot make them yourself? The way to answer that question is to prepare a legal document called a power of attorney.

Giving the right to make decisions on your behalf is an important decision. So is preparing the document that assigns your power of attorney. The experienced East Valley estate planning lawyers at Brown, Naegle, Crider & Jensen LLC can help you through this process. Trust attorneys Scott T. Jensen and Shad M. Brown to guide you forward.

Types of power of attorney

There are many reasons why a person might want to enable someone else to act on their behalf. That's why the law allows for several types of power of attorney, including:

Limited: A limited power of attorney, as the name implies, only has the authority to take action on your behalf for a particular purpose, such as handling an out-of-state transaction or managing your affairs while you are out of the country.

Springing: This type of power of attorney is essentially a contingency plan that will "spring up" when certain conditions are met. For instance, you can designate a power of attorney that will come into effect when you become incapacitated due to illness.

Durable: This is the broadest power of attorney, authorizing the person to control all of your general financial affairs for an indefinite period of time.

With respect to estate planning, we generally speak of two distinct powers of attorney: a healthcare power of attorney to make decisions about your medical care, and a general power attorney to make decisions about your finances and property. You can give the same person both powers of attorney, but you can also assign them to two different individuals, depending on your needs.

Choosing the right person as your power of attorney

The key to choosing a power of attorney is trust. You need to find someone who will respect your wishes, keep accurate records, provide periodic updates and, above all, not abuse his or her position. Your power of attorney might be an actual attorney, but you may also choose a family member, friend or other trusted individual.

While you can technically name more than one individual as your power of attorney, we don't recommend doing so. Having co-powers of attorney can lead to disputes that must be resolved through litigation. What we do recommend is choosing at least one alternate in the event that your first choice predeceases you or is otherwise unable or unwilling to carry out the duties.

Our lawyers have the experience and legal knowledge needed to help you choose your power of attorney. Moreover, we know how to draft the estate planning documents needed to give power of attorney and make sure your wishes will be honored. Contact us online or call 480-378-9000 today to speak with an experienced Mesa estate planning lawyer.

3850 E Baseline Rd Suite 112
Mesa, AZ 85206
local phone: (480) 378-9000