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What is a "POA" and do I need one?

What is a POA?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document in which the principal (you), designates another person (called the agent or attorney-in-fact) to act on your behalf to make all decisions, in specified matters or in all matters.

There are many reasons why someone might need a POA. If you are someone who travels regularly, are unmarried or own assets in your individual name, in the military or want to choose the specific person to make decisions in your stead, you may need a POA so that your affairs will be handled, in the manner you wish.

One of the most common reasons to establish a POA is usually due to advancing age or health considerations.

Do I need one?
Anyone who wants to permit another person to perform certain legal acts on his or her behalf needs a power of attorney (or POA). A power of attorney document can allow another person to handle financial matters, make health care decisions. Many states have official power of attorney documents, but consulting an attorney is a good idea.

Setting up a POA
The first step is to select someone who you feel is trustworthy. The attorney-in-fact can be a spouse, adult child, relative, or trusted friend. Remember, once a POA is active, the representative you select will have legal authority to manage your bank accounts, securities, house and personal property. EVERYTHING. Make sure the person you name will do so with your best interest at heart.

POAs are the key to protecting your financial interests, if you can’t. There are several types of POAs, ones that last during your lifetime regardless of health changes (durable), ones that become active only when you become incapacitated (springing), and ones that solely cover medical decisions (healthcare) to name a few.

A Will does not replace a POA
A Will is designed to distribute your property after death. A POA supports your financial and or health related decisions that you may want or need if you are unable to do so yourself. To learn more read: Who Needs a Will? Probably You

An attorney can help you determine which POA is right for you and is a good resource to help with all legal documents. Often times a will, POA, and health care directives can be completed at the same time.

Remember:
By having a POA in place, if you are unable to help yourself, you can avoid potentially costly and time consuming delays for your loved ones. These type of legal documents are not just for us, they are to make our loved ones lives easier in a time of turmoil for them and ensure your wishes are followed.

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