Justin, My son recommended that I contact an attorney about having power of attorney documents prepared. I have never wanted to sign a power of attorney because I want to manage my own business, but I’ve decided to do it now to appease him. What rights will I give up when I sign a power of attorney? – Jim
Jim, Thank you for your question on an issue that causes many people a lot of confusion. In a nutshell, you don’t give up any rights when you sign a power of attorney. A power of attorney document simply nominates someone, your agent, to handle affairs on your behalf if and when you are unable to do so yourself. You are always in charge, and no agent is legally authorized to do anything against your wishes. Additionally, power of attorney documents are revocable, which means you can change them or do away with them altogether.
At my firm, we recommend that all our clients have a general durable power of attorney, for business and financial affairs, and a healthcare power of attorney, for medical issues. But with both of these documents, you are responsible for and in charge of your own affairs as long as you are able to and desire to handle them yourself.
Your son is right to encourage you to sign power of attorney documents, though, because the alternative would be guardianship proceedings in court. This is an expensive process through which family members are forced to seek authority from a judge to manage the affairs of a loved one when age or health issues prevent that family member from managing their own affairs. No family wants to go through guardianship proceedings, and signing power of attorney documents while healthy is the best way to avoid it.