There are several different kinds of power of attorney documents in California that can be made between any two consenting parties at or over the legal age of 18. While each Power of Attorney document in and of itself is pretty powerful, when a POA document has an added “durability” provision, the document becomes iron-clad. A durable power of attorney form starts its life as a more general power of attorney document. If the grantor (the person who is delegating some other person or group to take care of the legal or formal aspects of their activities for any reason) were to become physically incapacitated or mentally incompetent while the agent (the person or group who has agreed to look after their matters) had a power of attorney document that is in force, the provision of durability would facilitate the arrangement to stay in effect.
DPOA Forms and Their Uses in California
One use of a durable power of attorney document would be a healthcare power of attorney document. Perhaps you might want to prepare this document on the off chance that you may become physically disabled or mentally incapable due to a chance event or prospect of serious sickness. Maybe you will be starting chemotherapy and want some provisions in effect in case you react poorly to the treatment and are unable to make sound decisions whether to continue or not.
Maybe you plan on traveling to a hazardous climate or region, for example, and wish to plan for the possible event of contracting a powerful sickness that disables you.
In these and a thousand other possible scenarios, you might stress that the power of attorney document would only go into effect if a healthcare professional were to attest that you are mentally or physically disabled.
A Note About Power of Attorney Documents
What a great many people do not understand about power of attorney documents is that you do not have to decide on a lawyer to be your agent. Nowhere in the durable power of attorney definition is a lawyer required by law to sign or be part of the agreement.
In fact, a lawyer does not even have to be present at signing or execution of the written document; only a registered notary does and a witness (read more about the role of a power of attorney witness). This has been outlined in our opening article about Power of Attorney Forms in California on the home page of this site. However, it is worth mentioning that the person you decide to act on your behalf is a person you trust implicitly.
The acquaintance, relative, or maybe even business, or a foundation, and yes, even an attorney that you designate to be your agent will have the power to legally act on your behalf considering your health care (such as a healthcare power of attorney document) or monetary decisions (as in the case of an estate power of attorney form). You MUST decide upon an agent who will not misuse the powers you officially grant them and act in your best interests. However, California law has been made so that it is difficult for a power of attorney agent to misuse the role for their own gains.
A durable power of attorney agent is only held responsible for intentional wrongdoing, not for bad decisions. There often is no financial or other forms of reward for acting as an agent on your behalf to staunch wrongful conduct, and since you are often affiliated with the agent in some personal sphere, this is seldom the case. A medical power of attorney form can make decisions regarding your life-extending operations while having no decision-making powers over your financial arrangements. An estate power of attorney can obtain access to all of your personal and business accounts (even your safety deposit) as a representative and yet not have any say over your overall health.
Altogether instances (except for the healthcare power of attorney) of the POA documents between two parties, the agreement becomes invalidated in the event of the grantor’s incapacitation. The durable power of attorney intends to allow the agent to continue to make legal decisions on the grantor’s behalf up to the grantor’s death.