A Power of Attorney is a document utilized in cases where one person (the agent) has to act on another’s (the principal) behalf to conduct the principal’s business or personal affairs.
It is very important to have a Power of Attorney in place in the event that a person becomes incapacitated either mentally or physically and is incapable of carrying out his/her personal and business affairs.
In the event of alleged mental incapacity, there has to be a legal proceeding and hearing in order to adjudge the person as incompetent. The Court in its sound discretion appoints someone to represent and make legal decisions for the incapacitated person.
Traditionally Powers of Attorney only addressed financial issues. However, good practices should include among other matters the right to consent to medical treatment, the right to have access to and receive medical reports and records, and the right to obtain information that would otherwise be precluded by financial privacy laws. Consideration should also be given to name a successor person to have the power to act in the event the initially named agent cannot act.
A properly drawn Power of Attorney can avoid this type of proceeding.
Also to be considered are living wills and/or medical directives which relate to health and medical treatment (HIPPA) issues that might arise.