Most of our clients are familiar with a Property Power of Attorney, but do not know about a Personal Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Attorney. Generally, our office recommends having all three types in one Power of Attorney (POA) for sound estate planning.
A POA who has authority to make decisions about your property may be very limited or very broad. You may grant this type of POA the authority to access your bank accounts, pay your bills, enter into contracts of sale, or any combination thereof. At its broadest, a Property POA may authorize a person to do anything you may do with your property or finances. You should carefully consider who you want to act as your Property POA because this type of POA may be easily abused.
In a Personal POA, you may grant the authority to make lifestyle decisions such as where you live or what social activities you take part in. This type of POA is particularly important if you have partial functioning or a loss of capacity. Often decisions will require both a Property and a Personal POA if you have lost capacity. For example, you may require 24 hour care due to a loss of capacity. Your Property POA will be responsible for dealing with and paying for any care related expenses, including the cost of living in a full service care home. Your Personal POA will be responsible for deciding in which care home you will live.
You may choose two separate people to be your Property POA and Personal POA, but the two will need to be able to work cooperatively in your best interests.
Having an Enduring POA ensures that your Personal and/or Property POAs will continue to be legally valid in the event you suffer a loss of capacity. Also, you may choose to have your POA only be usable if you lose capacity. Unless your POA says otherwise, two medical professionals must declare that you no longer have capacity before the enduring aspect of your POA takes effect.
Our clients generally choose to have an Enduring Personal and Property POA to ensure they have the peace of mind that their financial affairs will be properly handled by someone they trust in case they find themselves no longer able to do so.