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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 will.

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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 Will

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.

Contact us to find out how we can help. Call (888) 910-6652 for your free initial consultation!

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Law Offices of James C. Shields - Torrance Bankruptcy & Estate Planning Attorney
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