What You Can and Cannot Do with a POA

Long Island, NY Attorneys for Financial and Healthcare POAs

elderly couple doing paperworkA Power of Attorney (POA) is a powerful document, but it doesn’t carry unlimited power.

Just like other legal documents, creating and enforcing a POA can be confusing. As an essential tool for aging adults and their families, it is important to understand how the POA works and what you can/cannot do with it.

Types of POAs

There is not just one type of POA. Instead, you have the option of using two: Healthcare and financial.

A healthcare POA is one wherein you appoint an agent (family or friend) to make healthcare decisions about a person (known as the principal) when he or she is unable to do so.

The financial POA appoints a person (sometimes a financial advisor or attorney) to make all financial decisions on behalf of the principal.

What Can a POA Do?

An appointed agent does not have unlimited powers. In the name of the principal, a healthcare agent can only:

  • Decide what medical care the principal receives.
  • Decide where the principal will live.
  • Determine what diet the principal follows.
  • Decide what family members or professionals handle hygiene care of the principal.

As a financial agent, the individual can make decisions on behalf of the principal for:

  • Deciding how to pay for healthcare and housing.
  • File taxes and pay any taxes necessary.
  • Pay all bills and manage bank account balances.
  • Make any investment decisions (including buying/selling assets).

A Living Will: A Good Addition to Any POA

While you may be considering a POA, do not forget about drafting a proper will. A living will offers extra coverage and, in conjunction with your estate plan, can protect you and your loved ones. Outside of providing an individual’s physician with information regarding your care, your living will can also take any pressure of healthcare agents, especially in terms of life or death decisions. A living will is always more powerful than a POA, which will help when you appoint a family member as the healthcare agent – and possibly make him or her more comfortable in that role.

Set up a Proper Estate Plan Today

If you are worried about the capabilities and limitations of a POA, speak to an estate planning attorney. An attorney can help decide which critical documents are best for your estate plan, and ensure that you and your loved ones are properly protected. To get started, contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.

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