A Power of Attorney gives another person – your attorney in fact – legal authority to act on your behalf. The authority can be granted for a specific, limited purpose or for much broader purposes giving your agent authority over all of your finances and assets.
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to nominate a person of your choice – your attorney in fact – to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and are not able to make these decisions on your own.
Most living trusts are contain similar provisions allowing a trustee to make decisions for someone who is incompacitated for trust assets.
An Advance Health Care Directive is a type of power of attorney giving another person the power to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated and are not able to make medical decisions on your own. In California, an Advance Health Care Directive also allows you to state your own desires pertaining to health care decisions for situations that may arise in the future.
If you become incapacitated without powers of attorney in place for health care and/or finances, your loved ones may be forced to gain authority to make decisions on your behalf through a court-supervised conservatorship proceeding. Conservatorships can be very costly, are very invasive, and require a great deal of court supervision.
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