Myth #1: Only Mentally Competent People Can Appoint a POA
This one’s straightforward. If someone isn’t mentally fit, they can’t sign legal documents like a Power of Attorney (POA). Even if you have a note from the doctor saying someone’s not mentally well, it doesn’t automatically mean they can appoint someone to make decisions for them. If a person loses their ability to make decisions, the only solution is a court process called conservatorship or guardianship, where someone is legally appointed to make decisions for them. Every probate court in the country will tell you that you really need a lawyer for the guardianship or conservatorship process. Often, persons who have become mentally incompetent but do not have a POA need both a conservator AND a guardianship. The conservatorship is for taking care of assets; the guardianship is for caring for the person.
Myth #2: You Can Grab a POA Form Online
Sure, you can find POA forms on the internet, but it’s not a great idea. Legal decisions aren’t one-size-fits-all, like cheap hats in a gift shop. Using a generic form might miss important details specific to your situation. Instead, it’s better to talk to a lawyer who can create a customized POA tailored to your needs. Think of it like buying shoes – you want something that fits, not whatever you randomly find online.
Myth #3: Your Agent Can Do Whatever They Want with Your Money
No, not true. Having a POA doesn’t mean your agent can go on a shopping spree with your cash. They have a legal duty to use your money wisely, in your best interest. Even if the document doesn’t spell out this responsibility, the law implies it. So, pick someone you trust because they’re going to handle your affairs responsibly, especially if you can’t make decisions for yourself.
Myth #4: There’s Only One Type of POA
Actually, there are different types, each serving different purposes:
General POA: This covers a broad range of decisions, but it stops if you become mentally unfit or pass away.
Limited or Special POA: This one’s specific, like giving someone the power to sell your house. It’s limited to certain tasks mentioned in the document.
Durable POA: This keeps working even if you can’t make decisions anymore due to mental incapacity. There are two kinds: one starts immediately, and the other ‘springs’ into action when specific conditions are met.
Health Care Advance Directive: This is for health decisions. It lets someone manage your medical choices if you can’t.
Remember, when it comes to legal matters, it’s smart to talk to a lawyer. They’ll help you navigate this maze and make sure you’re protected.