What does having power of attorney entail?

While not exactly an estate planning aspect, power of attorney is one method that is often used to protect a person’s interests and assets. Many Detroit residents have been appointed power of attorney over a loved one, or have designated one themselves in anticipation of a condition that would later leave them unable to make important decisions.

What exactly is power of attorney? According to the National Caregivers Library, this is a legal tool that allows an agent a certain measure of authority over the financial decisions or other aspects of an incapacitated person’s life. For example, if you were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you might grant one of your adult children power of attorney over your affairs. You could specify that your son or daughter would start making decisions for you when a doctor feels that you are no longer able to make informed choices on your own. This could protect you from being taken advantage of by others and from spending too much of your money, as well as ensure that your needs are taken care of. You could also grant your child the ability to make health decisions on your behalf.

In some cases, power of attorney might be granted to a parent of an adult child. If you have a child who suffers from a mental illness or substance abuse addiction, for example, having power of attorney could protect his or her interests and in some cases could appoint you as a legal guardian with more decision-making capabilities.

The laws regarding power of attorney are complex and each situation is unique. Therefore, this information is meant to be general in nature, and should not replace the advice of a lawyer.