Powers of Attorney in California
Torrance Probate Lawyer for Power of Attorney Cases
Powers of attorney are legal appointments set in place by an individual
(the "principal") granting another person (an "agent"
or "attorney-in-fact") control over the principal's finances
and/or health care decisions. Despite the name, the trusted "agent"
or "attorney-in-fact" does not have to be a lawyer, and the
position is typically designated to a family member. Executing powers
of attorney is part of comprehensive
estate planning and can be done alone or as part of a living
Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
This document grants the agent the right to make and control the principal's
finances at his or her direction or if the principal becomes ill or incapacitated.
The powers granted by a principal can be narrow or broad, depending on
the circumstances. Having a durable power of attorney for finances is
essential if a person owns a closely held or family business.
In California, financial institution and insurance company policies in
honoring a Power of Attorney for Financial Matters vary. Many financial
institutions will not honor a general grant of authority. They will require
a specific grant of authority. A limited number of financial institutions
follow a more lenient standard and will honor a general grant of authority.
Clients should carefully consider the extent of authority they wish to
give an agent as well as the policies of the financial institution and
insurance companies at the time they establish their estate plan and when
they open or close financial accounts. A properly funded
revocable trust is often a superior vehicle for managing these assets. Each case is unique.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health
This document, which can be separate or combined with a durable power of
attorney for finances, allows the named agent to make any necessary medical
decisions on behalf of the principal. This is sometimes referred to as
an Advanced Health Care Directive
as discussed below.
Living wills provide specific information about a person's wishes in
the event that person becomes incapacitated. This will aid doctors and
families when faced with major medical decisions.
Advance Health Care Directive
An Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) is broader term for the legal documents
comprised of powers of attorney and living wills. The term AHCD is sometimes
used interchangeably with a Durable Power of Attorney for Health.
Why You Need a Lawyer
There are many forms online offering free or inexpensive ways to draft
powers of attorney without the assistance of a lawyer. The truth is, without
a legally executed power of attorney in place, there is no guarantee the
document will hold up to scrutiny at the time it is needed the most. Our
experienced Torrance estate planning attorneys at the
Law Offices of James C. Shields provide the peace of mind in knowing that if a tragedy occurred, your
family will understand your wishes and have a plan in place.