A power of attorney is a legal document which allows the drafter or "principal" to name an agent or "attorney-in-fact" to act on their behalf under certain circumstances. The attorney-in-fact can act on the principal's behalf, and make legally binding decisions. The power of attorney can be granted broadly or in limited situations, such as poor health or unconsciousness. Given the different types and variations of a power of attorney, it is advisable to consult a lawyer with experience in estate planning before drafting one.

Consider these types of powers of attorney:

Durable Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney comes into effect if the principal becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. This allows the principal to take precautions against the possibility that they will become unable to care for themselves or their estate. A durable power of attorney can therefore depend on certain triggers, such as a medical declaration of mental incapacitation. In some states, a durable power of attorney can serve as an alternative to guardianship.

Health Care Power of Attorney. This document allows the principal to appoint someone to make health care decisions on their behalf should the principal become unconscious or otherwise unable. In many states, a health care power of attorney can also legally contain instructions on whether to provide life support or other procedures should the principal become permanently ill or unconscious.

Financial or Property Power of Attorney. This legal document is also called a general durable power of attorney. In a property power of attorney, the principal must assign specific powers to the agent. These can include the authority to manage finances, property, taxes, and other actions.

Contact an Iowa Estate Planning lawyer representing clients in Norwalk, Iowa today to schedule your initial consultation.

State law differs on powers of attorney. The name of these instruments, not to mention their powers, varies, although all states have some provision for these measures. If a person is unable to act on their own behalf and has not completed a power of attorney, a court may find it necessary to appoint a legal agent. Under Iowa law, this agent is called a guardian or conservator. If a court appoints a guardian, you may not be able to choose who this will be.

Other legal documents such as living wills allow persons to provide instructions about their health care and estate planning. The estate planning process should cover the disposition of assets during your lifetime as well as afterwards. If you are beginning the estate planning process or must have a power of attorney drafted, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney to protect your assets and fulfill your needs.

Power of Attorney - Health Care Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a written document by which one person gives to another person (the attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on behalf of the first person in one or more matters.

Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions

In May, 1991, a new Iowa law became effective that allows individuals to confer upon an attorney in fact the authority to make medical and health care decisions on behalf of the person granting the powers. A health care power of attorney essentially takes the place of a guardianship and allows the attorney in fact to make daily health care decisions without court supervision. A recent federal law now requires medical facilities to inform all patients, prior to admission, of the right to sign a living will or a health care power of attorney.

By executing a health care power of attorney, you are authorizing the attorney in fact to make health care decisions on your behalf. Health care decisions mean the consent, refusal to consent or withdrawal of consent to health care. Health care means any care, treatment, service or procedure, the purpose of which is to maintain, diagnose or treat an individual's physical or mental condition.

It is a good idea to nominate an alternate attorney in fact, in case your first choice is unable or no longer willing to serve as your attorney in fact. However, it is not generally recommended that you appoint co-attorneys in fact. This will avoid potential deadlocks or disputes over health care decisions.

You may revoke a power of attorney at any time. To make an effective revocation, you must communicate your intent to revoke. This communication may be oral or written. The communication should be made to the attorney in fact. However, if a health care provider currently is providing health care services, then you may effectively revoke your power of attorney by communicating your intent to the care provider.

The health care power of attorney allows you to grant to the attorney in fact the authority to make decisions regarding the use of life sustaining procedures. Because of this, it has been said that the execution of a living will memorializes your intent and desire regarding your use of life-sustaining procedures, and not what your attorney in fact thinks you desire. The presence of a living will relieves the attorney in fact from making that difficult decision, if the situation arises.

If you would like to schedule a initial consultation contact an Iowa asset protection attorney, representing clients in Norwalk, Iowa at Howes & Anderson P.C. Give us a call at (515) 225-9000 or complete our inquiry form.