Springing vs Durable Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document that gives someone you designate the power to act in your place. Having a power of attorney allows you to pick someone you trust to handle your affairs should you become unable to do so. Having one can be more important to your well-being than a will and it gives you peace of mind and reassurance that, in an emergency, someone you choose will have the authority to act for you. While having a power of attorney is a good idea and part of responsible estate planning, consider carefully about what kind is best for you.
A springing power of attorney, sometimes called a conditional power of attorney, is a legal document that comes into effect after certain conditions are met, typically when the person who created it, called the principal, becomes disabled or mentally incompetent. It can be used in a variety of situations that are established by the principal and does not necessarily have to involve trigger with mental or physical incapacity. If you choose springing power of attorney, you should be prepared to define exactly what kind of event will lead to activation of the power of attorney.
A durable power of attorney becomes effective once you sign the document and continues to be effective if you become incapacitated but are still cognizant. For example, you can designate your son or daughter to have power of attorney over your finances or assets because they are better with money or because you do not have the time.
Power of attorney laws differ slightly from state to state. California durable power of attorney laws grant the named individual to make decisions related to medical care and treatment of the principal. Your estate planning attorney can provide more information about California-specific laws surrounding power of attorneys. Abuses of power of attorney can occur in any situation. It is best to discuss this potential with an experienced attorney who will help address all your questions and point out important qualities when choosing a power of attorney so you can select someone who will have your best interest in mind.