Power of attorney can be used for a wide range of purposes. These documents can allow another person the right to make decisions on your behalf. In California, state law allows for the use of durable powers of attorney for finances, a specific kind of document used for limited circumstances.
Powers of attorney, or POA, must be written down, and can only be granted by someone who is at least 18-years-old and of sound mind. In California, a power of attorney must be signed and dated by both the person granting the power and the person receiving it. While having these documents notarized is not a legal requirement, it can be useful as many organizations will not recognize non-notarized documents.
Power of attorney is granted from one person, typically called the principal, to another person or organization, typically called the agent or attorney in fact. Financial power of attorney is typically granted to accountants, banks or attorneys that act for the principal. While these agents can all be called attorney in fact, that doesn't mean they have to be lawyers.
Powers of attorney can be as broad or as limited as the principal wants. Financial powers of attorney limit the agent's ability to act to specific financial matters and transactions. However, anyone granted general power of attorney will also have these rights, as general POA grants the broadest power possible to the agent.
Powers of attorney usually terminates once the principal is no longer able to make his own decisions. When durable power of attorney is granted, however, the authority to make decisions continues even if the principal becomes incapable. For example, a principal can grant someone durable power of attorney for finances if he wants the agent to take care of his financial matters if he falls ill or dies.
Durable power of attorney for finances are typically used by anyone who wants to chose a person to take care of his finances in the event of illness or death. In California, these documents can be used in conjunction with other documents, such as durable powers of attorney for health care and living wills. Where the financial POA takes care of the principal's financial needs, the health care POA and living will can be used to look out after their health care decisions.