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By: Cava and Faulkner

California Power of Attorney Guide

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In California, if you possess a power of attorney for another individual, you, the agent, have the legal right to act on behalf of the other individual known as the “principal.” Generally, power of attorney is delegated to an agent when the principal cannot make decisions relating to legal, financial, or health issues.

The principal has the option to determine the scope and limitations of a power of attorney. If you would like more information regarding power of attorney in California, contact the law offices of Cava and Faulkner of Elk Grove, CA, and ask to schedule a free consultation.

What are the Different Types of Power of Attorney in California?

Several different types of power of attorney available in California can be chosen based on your specific needs. The options are as follows:

  • General Power of Attorney: This is California’s most inclusive power of attorney. This allows you to designate an agent, also known as an attorney-in-fact. This allows your agent to have all of the legal rights and powers that you possess. However, if you become incapacitated, this type of power of attorney is no longer valid.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: This type of power of attorney has the lasting capacity to stay in effect even if you do become incapacitated and can no longer make your own decisions.
  • Special or Limited Power of Attorney: The scope of this type of power of attorney is extremely limited and is typically used in order for your agent to make decisions for you if you are unavailable. For instance, you may be out of the country but need to have legal documents signed on your behalf. Once the need is met, a power of attorney is no longer in force.
  • Springing Power of Attorney: A springing power of attorney’s legal authority only goes into effect when certain conditions are met, such as when medical professionals determine that the principal can no longer make healthcare decisions for themselves.

When Should I Consider Making a Power of Attorney?

Many individuals make the mistake of waiting until it is too late to consider making a power of attorney. If you become incapacitated, you would no longer be able to make the decision to appoint an agent to act on your behalf. Although it may be difficult to consider, planning ahead for the future is one of the best ways that you can protect your interests should the need arise at a later time.

Can I Have More Than One Power of Attorney?

Under California law, you are permitted to have more than one power of attorney to represent your interests. For example, you may choose to designate a separate agent to make your healthcare, financial, or legal decisions. These various powers of attorney can each be determined by your set of specific needs. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you make a decision as to how you should best proceed.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Get a Power of Attorney in California?

California law does not require individuals to hire an attorney to obtain a power of attorney (POA) to manage their affairs. However, because power of attorney documents pertain to legal affairs such as managing finances and healthcare decisions, it is a sound idea to consult with an attorney before making any decisions.

A power of attorney document grants the agent, the individual you designate to manage your affairs, the legal authority to carry out transactions on your behalf without asking your permission to do so beforehand. Therefore, it is wise to consult with an attorney in advance to understand the scope of the document that you intend to sign in order to protect your interests.

How Do I Establish a Power of Attorney on My Own?

The first thing that you will need is a power of attorney form. You can find an official form offered by the state of California online. This form allows you to choose what type of POA you would like to have. For example, you may choose a healthcare power of attorney or financial power of attorney legal document.

In order to create a legally valid power of attorney document, you and your agent need to both need to be adults and considered to be of sound mind. You must also have witnesses or a notary present.

If you plan to create a POA document without an attorney, then you need to remember the following:

  • Your agent cannot also be one of your witnesses or the notary
  • Your witnesses cannot be your healthcare provider, an employee of your healthcare provider, or any individual related to the healthcare provider

Can I Assign My Spouse to be My Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney document allows your agent to manage and carry out your financial affairs in the event that you are unwilling or unable to do so for yourself. If you desire your spouse to be your durable power of attorney, then they must sign a power of attorney document in your presence. This must be done in front of a notary. If signing before a notary is not possible, then you are also permitted to sign in front of at least two witnesses who are mentally capable of providing sworn testimony should the need arise.

Can a Family Member be a Witness for a Power of Attorney?

Texas law does permit a family member to be a witness on a power of attorney document. Of course, it is worth mentioning again that in order for a POA to be valid, the document must be signed by two witnesses.

Although the law does permit a family member to be a witness, one piece of sound legal advice is that it is always best to have disinterested parties act as a witness for legal documents. This often helps to avoid conflict or disputes at a later time.

Can an Attorney Advise Me About Composing a Power of Attorney on My Own?

If you would like to know more information about composing a power of attorney, you are welcome to call our law offices of Cava and Faulkner at 916-685-1225. We will be happy to schedule a free consultation in order to answer any questions that you may have.

When Should I Consult With an Attorney About Making a Power of Attorney?

One of the best steps that you can take to protect both yourself and your family is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible about the various power of attorney options that are available. Waiting until a crisis occurs is usually too late, and the State of California could end up appointing someone to make decisions for you.

Contact the law offices of Cava and Faulkner by calling (979) 596-4088 and ask to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.