Estate planning consists of various tools you can use to plan for an uncertain future. For example, you can write a will to leave your Gainesville home to your children. Or, you might create a living will in case you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for yourself. You might even choose to start a trust for your wife so that you can feel confident she will continue to have income after you pass.

Another tool that is part of estate planning is a power of attorney (POA). With a POA, you can give a trusted family member or friend the legal right to act on your behalf in regard to finances, medical care or various other reasons. Even if you are planning to travel abroad for an extended period of time, a POA can come in handy if matters arise at home that you need someone to attend to before your return. Here are a few things about power of attorney that you should know.

General vs special POA

With a general power of attorney, you will grant someone the right to conduct affairs on your behalf over a broad spectrum. A special power of attorney, on the other hand, only grants authority for an individual to act in specific circumstances. For example, you can create a power of attorney that allows your oldest adult child to make health care decisions for you, without giving him or her the right to handle financial matters.

Creating a POA

In general, when you create a power of attorney, you will need two adult witnesses to sign it in addition to yourself. While not a requirement, it is also a good idea to have a notary public act as one of the witnesses.

Cancelling POA

If you choose to cancel the power of attorney, you have several options. You can simply shred the original POA or you can orally revoke it so long as you have a witness who can attest to the revocation. A third option is to sign a document that states you are withdrawing your consent for your chosen agent to act on your behalf.

A power of attorney is a useful estate planning tool to have at your disposal as long as you trust the individual to whom you grant authority. Before you create a POA, be sure the person you choose to act on your behalf is willing to follow any directives you are leaving in regard to the decisions you allow him or her to make.