Power of Attorney (POA)
What is it?
POA gives someone else the right to do things like take care of your money for you or make legal decisions for you. This person can only make decisions at certain times. When a person can make decisions depends on how you write the agreement. If you cannot make decisions anymore, a power of attorney stops working (unless it is a “Durable Power of Attorney”)
There are different types of POA. A POA can be written to meet your specific needs. You can use a POA for things like healthcare decisions, financial decisions, or even things like education decision-making after a student turns 18.
When you set up your POA, you must be able to understand the benefits, risks, and choices and make a decision and share your decision. Lawyers call this capacity. You must also be able to understand that you are giving someone the legal right to make decisions for you. This power is good until you decide to cancel it or until you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.
POAs are revocable, meaning you can cancel or take away the power from the person making decisions for you any time.
The POA will end if you are no longer able to make any decisions for yourself.
A Durable Power of Attorney, is like other POA’s except, a Durable Power of Attorney does not stop if you cannot make any decisions for yourself. A Durable Power of Attorney will allow someone to make decisions for you even if you cannot make decisions for yourself.
Types of Powers of Attorney
General– The general POA gives someone the right to do almost anything you want them to do on your behalf, which may include the power to make medical decisions. However, many people get a separate Healthcare Directive to give someone power to make medical decisions for them. A POA does not give someone the power to make a Will for them.
Limited- A limited POA gives someone the right to do only certain specific things listed in the document.
Durable– This means that the POA will remain in effect even if you become unable to make any decisions for yourself.
Springing or Contingent powers of attorney– A POA is effective as soon as you sign it unless you write in the POA that it will only start at a specific future date or under a certain circumstance. For example, you may want a POA that states someone has the right to make decisions for you when you no longer have capacity (ability to understand the benefits, risks, and choices and make a decision and share your decision.).
How do I learn more?
Completing a Power of Attorney in Tennessee does not require a legal service, however the POA is a difficult document that requires a high level of understanding to complete correctly. Disability Rights TN strongly recommends talking with a lawyer to help with completing these documents. If you would like more information or want to talk to a lawyer contact Disability Rights Tennessee call 1(800) 342-1660.