While residents of Michigan might have a baseline understanding of what a power of attorney is, there still can be a degree of confusion. It can be helpful to have a clear understanding of power of attorney in order to make informed decisions should a situation call for it and to avoid any abuse of power that can unfortunately occur.
Simply put, the power of attorney allows one individual make legal decisions for another. It can be useful to anyone who wants to have a person whom they trust make legal choices if they are unable to do so. If the situation is such that a power of attorney was not created prior to a person becoming incapacitated, a guardian can be appointed in court. A common reason for a health care power of attorney or a medical power of attorney is if there is a medical issue that could lead to incapacitation. For example, if there was a brain injury or a medical condition such as dementia that can negatively influence the ability to function normally, a medical power of attorney can be beneficial.
If the power of attorney is used to plan for events in advance, it is a "durable" power of attorney. That means it is still in effect if the person who created it is incapacitated. It can be used in the short-term if necessary. An example of a short-term power of attorney is if there is a member of the armed services who is subject to overseas deployment and another person needs to take care of personal matters for that person while they're away.
There are also unfortunately risks to a power of attorney. A document can be forged, the agent might try to exert pressure for authority that the creator didn't want to provide money can be spent by the agent in a manner that wasn't to the creator's benefit and more. It's not an easy decision to move forward with a power of attorney. Discussing the matter with a legal professional can help clarify the ins and outs of power of attorney in order to hopefully avoid abuse of the system.
Source: consumerfinance.gov, "What is a power of attorney (POA)?, accessed on April 2, 2015