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Considering a power of attorney

Estate planning should include other matters besides the distribution of property after a person dies. A person should consider a power of attorney to assure that they are protected when they can no longer make decisions or act on their own behalf, especially during an emergency. These documents must meet a variety of needs and need to be carefully planned.

A general power of attorney is the broadest and authorizes the named agent to make decisions on a person's behalf. The agent must act upon that person's best interests and a court may hold them legally accountable for their actions. These powers are more prone to abuse because they are so broad and general.

A limited, specific or special power of attorney applies only to a very specific area of a person's life and can be restricted to a specific time. A power of attorney that would authorize the agent to manage or sell property for the owner who is far away is one example.

A durable power of attorney grants powers regardless of whether a person has mental capacity. The designated agent can make medical and financial decisions without interruption or delay and without court intervention.

A springing power of attorney takes effect only if certain conditions are met such as a person's incapacity. These conditions must be carefully drafted so an institution does not hesitate to fulfill the person's needs or that the agent's authorization is not misused.

A healthcare power of attorney allows a person to make healthcare decisions on another person's behalf if they become ill, suffer an accident or become incapacitated. these are especially important if the incapacity occurs suddenly.

Insufficient planning can reduce the effectiveness of a power of attorney or lead to abuse. Problems include inadequate detain for the document to be legal and effective, utilizing the wrong type of power of attorney, failure to meet Michigan's legal requirements, choosing an agent who is incompetent or untrustworthy and using a boilerplate document that does not meet a person's specific needs.

An attorney can help select the proper agent and prepare a document that complies with state law. They can also assure that the proper document is drafted that meets a person's needs.

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