Understanding a Power of Attorney

When you should appoint a Power of Attorney and what you’ll need to know about appointing one. Learn the types of Power of Attorneys and their definitions.

Understanding a Power of AttorneyWondering how to get power of attorney?  There are several types of Power of Attorneys in Arizona, it’s always best to know what type of Power of Attorney you may need in your specific situation.  That way, when this type of service is needed, you and your family know you’ve preplanned for this specific situation.

This information is specific to Maricopa County, however the basic premise can be used throughout your education of what a Power of Attorney is and what they can do on behalf of you, your health and assets.

Before we get into the different types of Power of Attorneys, you should know one major thing before going forward.  What does power of attorney mean?  When you appoint a Power of Attorney this person is acting on behalf of you if you cannot.  With that being said, when you do appoint your Power of Attorney, be sure they know your intentions, wishes or anything else that you need them to know.

Obviously it is always best to have a Will to ensure after you pass your property, assets, etc. are well taken care of, you should also want to consider a “Living Will”.  You may be asking, what is a Living Will?  In short a Living Will is defined in which time if you become mentally or physically incompetent or incapacitated your wishes are already written out specific to how you want your power of attorney to proceed.

Let’s first take a look at the different types of Power of Attorneys that are labeled right here in the state of Arizona.

General Power of Attorney – A General Power of Attorney is a person that is given complete authority to act upon another adult’s finances, property, business transactions, etc.  The General Power of Attorney typically does not have the rights to make decisions on the person’s health care treatment.  If you wish to give the same person Power of Attorney on your health than will need to assign them as your Health Care Power of Attorney.

Durable Health Care Power of Attorney – A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney is a person that upon a major disability or incompetency specific to artificial life support, they step in and act on your behalf.  When drafting or getting your documents around, its very wise to ensure you have “durable” or “durability” specifically written on the power of attorney paperwork if you are wanting a power of attorney in the event you are on life support.  There could be a chance that the paperwork could be voided if it is not clearly labeled which is why we typically recommend that you have us help you with these types of documents.

  • What if I have a Living Will and a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney? Great question!  Lets start off by making sure we still understand what the two are.  A Living Will gives direction to others about the wishes you’ve laid out.  However, the Living Will isn’t actually as broad as the Durable Health Care Power of Attorney.  Did you know that even if you have a Living Will that says that you do not want to have a feeding tube doesn’t necessarily permit health care providers to quit that treatment?  A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney does.
    • The other thing to remember is that you’ll need to have signed both documents and both need to be attached to one another. The signature on the Durable Health Care Power of Attorney doesn’t need to be notarized, but will need to be witnessed by a person who is 18 years or older, but cannot be a blood relative.  If your looking for a durable power of attorney form or additional information specific to your requests schedule a consultation with us today!
  • Who holds on to my Living Will and Durable Health Care Power of Attorney? Either or both of those forms should be passed out to your close friends, family members, your doctors and you may also want to take a copy to the hospital where you may be admitted to.  The idea here is to ensure that if there is ever a time that this paperwork is needed someone will have them.  It is also a good idea to hand the paperwork out to your close family and friends and go over any additional questions that any of them may have.  That way, everything is out in the open prior to any unfortunate event.

Special Power of Attorney – If you are selling personal property or a one-time business transaction this is typically when a Special Power of Attorney would be utilized.  The idea here is you assign another adult to act on your behalf when you need it.

Parental Power of Attorney – We should note right off the bat, that this is not a way to give another adult custody or guardianship of your child.  A Parental Power of Attorney typically begins on a date and ends no more than six months later from the initial date.  This is a temporary power of attorney that gives authority over your children in a specific situation and obviously with that, the person that you’ve chosen is willing to accept this responsibility.

Revocation of Power of Attorney – You’ve passed out your power of attorney paperwork several years ago and your wishes have changed.  This is where you will need to draft a revocation of power of attorney.  Basically, what this means is that you are cancelling or revoking any existing power of attorney that you currently have.  If there have been changes to your wishes, or power of attorney its always wise to make it official and for very obvious reasons that we probably do not need to go into.

Other interesting facts about a Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney acts on behalf of you as your living self.  However, if you pass away a Power of Attorney loses all power making decisions for you specific to your assets, etc.  The quick thing to remember is a Power of Attorney is a great thing to have, but it is not a Will replacement by any means so be sure to have something in writing specific to your wishes in a Will.

When appointing a Power of Attorney, it is always the best idea to place someone that you truly trust to handle your affairs.  If you are unsure, uneasy or have doubts whether you’ve chosen the right Power of Attorney to act on behalf of you or not, than you should immediately relinquish that person and find someone that you feel you can trust.  When you appoint a Power of Attorney for yourself, you may be taking a risk that could lead to a loss of assets or worse.  In the end this decision is up to you, but because this is considered a “big decision” it should be thought as one.

What happens if I do not have a power of attorney in Arizona?

If you haven’t established a power of attorney for yourself, than there are a few things that the Arizona Medical Board will do next to see if they can help determine what your wishes were.  If in the event something does happen to you, it’s wise not wait until something does for the AZ Medical Board to help in making these health decisions for you.  Throughout this search here is a list of people they will seek out on behalf of the person that is too ill to make decisions on their own.  However, if no one was with you, and they are having troubles finding any of these people below, than there has been much time that has been exhausted when they could have gotten those answers much more efficiently.  The question is, will the person that they find truly know your wishes if you are too ill or incapacitated?

  1. Spouse, unless you are legally separated
  2. Adult children, if there is more than one adult child they will get the majority vote from each of them
  3. Parents
  4. Domestic partner, if no one has established financial responsibility for you
  5. Brother/sister
  6. Close friend

With all of this being said, it is always best to speak to a qualified Arizona Board Certified Attorney about your specific wishes relating to a Power of Attorney, Will or even a Living Will.  Our attorneys can provide you with appropriate form for power of attorney.

If you have an estate, assets or anything else that you’ll need to ensure get into the right hands at the right time, take some time to schedule a consultation with an Arizona estate planning attorney here in Peoria and Scottsdale, Arizona.  We offer a multitude of asset protection legal services!

Although you may think that the assets you’ve accrued may be too high, too low or you feel you know exactly what should happen to you and so does your loved ones, it will be to your benefit to learn what an attorney advises.  If in the event of your death, the next process will be “probate” specific to your assets.  Stay tuned next for our article on understanding probate and in some cases how to potentially avoid it.

Visit the “Official Website of the Arizona Medical Board” for questions about how the Arizona Medical Board handles these types of cases and the importance of a medical power of attorney?

  1. June 14, 2017

    If I have the power of attorney for my mother and her wishes were to be at home. Not in a nursing home can the state fight me to take my mother home?

    • July 12, 2017

      Thank you for reaching out to our firm. To properly assist you with your question please contact us directly via email at consults@wesbrookslaw.com or by phone at (602) 262-4357.

  2. August 15, 2018

    I have power of attorney from my best friend because she does not get along with her family and they don’t call her or come out to see her. She has been in Arizona for about 19 years. She was living in an assisted living facility. She just passed away and I was told by the Executive Director (who gets his information off the internet) told me that I could not clean out the apartment that she was living in or take anything that it all goes to the family. My friend appointed me POA because she does not get along with her family and I was shocked to find out that after she passed away that I cannot do anything according to the new Arizona law that I am not familiar with. Is this true and if it is than what is the POA to do? Please give me a call and let me know. My phone number is 219-805-7744. Thanks.

    • August 19, 2018

      Hello Roxanne, thank you for reaching out to us. The best way to get the best answers to any of your questions is to contact us directly. Please call us Monday through Friday at (602) 262-4357 to speak to an attorney. Thanks again.

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