Lawyers Help People Keep Control over Key Decisions through Power of Attorney Documents

Santa Cruz firm prepares instruments designating agents to handle important matters

If something unexpected happens and you’re not capable of managing financial matters, or handling other vital responsibilities, you want to have the right person acting on your behalf. The Santa Cruz, California lawyers at Penrose Chun & Gorman LLP work with California residents to write and enforce sound power of attorney documents. Depending on your preference, your power of attorney can be durable so it is ready if the need arises, or the document can last for a specified timeframe. 

What is a power of attorney in California?

Comprehensive estate planning requires more than an orderly transfer of assets upon your death. If you are incapacitated for some reason, it is important to have a trusted person in place to protect your resources. Creating an enforceable power of attorney document averts potentially costly battles over control and ensures that someone is designated to handle critical tasks. We’ll work closely with you to identify the best person to act as your agent if the need arises.

What are the different types of power of attorney?

Each power of attorney document we create is tailored to the individual client’s needs, but they are generally divided into the following three categories:

  • General — Under a general power of attorney, the agent is authorized to handle a wide range of concerns on behalf of the principal. 
  • Specific — Someone who is absent or incapacitated for a temporary period time might choose to designate someone to act in their stead for one particular matter, such as a real estate transaction. A specific power of attorney might also be warranted if a person is not comfortable handling a particular complex negotiation.

Many people choose a springing durable power of attorney, which goes into effect if the signer becomes incapacitated or some other named contingency occurs. By working with an experienced attorney, you’ll have the security of knowing the document reflects your true intentions.

How are powers of attorney used in California?

No matter how complex the terms might be, drafting a valid power of attorney is relatively simple. The principal must be at least 18 years old and possess the requisite mental capacity to execute a legal document. Along with the principal, two witnesses must sign the document, or it needs to be notarized.

Powers of attorney versus conservatorships and guardianships

Along with power of attorney documents, conservatorships are used in California to benefit someone who no longer can meet their own needs. The key difference is that the power of attorney is executed voluntarily by the principal while a conservatorship is established by the court. If the agent designated by an incapacitated person is not performing their duties responsibly, a judge might name a different person as conservator, overruling the power of attorney. California uses the term “guardianship” strictly in matters involving minor children.

When does a power of attorney end?

You can revoke or revise your power of attorney if circumstances change. In some cases, the grant of authority might be limited to a certain period of time or for a particular transaction. When someone designates their spouse as their agent, that power of attorney is no longer valid if the couple divorces. If you have an existing document and believe it might need updating, we can make any needed revisions.

Contact a dedicated California attorney to discuss power of attorney documents

Penrose Chun & Gorman LLP creates power of attorney documents for Californians. Please call 831-515-3344 or contact us online. Our office is in Santa Cruz. 

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