Power of Attorney in Michigan
A power of attorney, or POA, lets you, the “principal,” choose a trusted person, persons or organization to handle your financial, legal or health care matters in the event you are unable to manage them yourself. The person, persons or organization you choose to act on your behalf is known as your “agent.”
A power of attorney must be signed by you - the person granting the authority - and you must be 18 years of age and mentally competent at the time of signing in order to make the document legally binding. Additionally, you may revoke or cancel the power of attorney at any time during your lifetime.
A durable power of attorney allows your agent to continue to act on your behalf even if you were to become incapacitated. A non-durable power of attorney becomes void if the principle becomes incapacitated. For example, if Steve goes into the hospital and he does not specify that the power of attorney is durable, the power of attorney is inactive the moment Steve becomes incapacitated.
Unless a power of attorney is made “durable” by adding specific language to the document, your agent can only exercise a power that you, as the principle, are also capable of exercising.
A general power of attorney authorizes your agent to act on your behalf in a variety of different situations. A general power of attorney is generally used to allow your agent to manage your affairs when you are unable to manage them yourself.
A general power of attorney is commonly used to allow another person to handle the following types of matters for you:
- Banking transactions
- Entering safety deposit boxes
- Buying and selling property
- Purchasing life insurance
- Settling claims
- Entering into contracts
- Exercising stock rights
- Purchasing, managing or selling real estate
- Filing tax returns
- Handling matters related to government benefits
In addition to the powers above, careful consideration should be taken as to whether you should include the following provisions in your power of attorney:
- Power to handle tax matters and deal with the Internal Revenue Service
- Power to handle retirement accounts and investments
- A compensation clause detailing how much your agent should be paid
- Power to make gifts
- Power to create and amend trusts for your benefit
- Power to fund a trust you have already created
Simply stated, a limited power of attorney authorizes your agent to act on your behalf only in specific situations. For example, Sherry Sample will be out of the country and unavailable to attend the closing of a home she is selling. Sherry grants the authority to her son to attend the closing and sign the necessary documents in order to complete the transaction on her behalf. By signing this limited power of attorney, Sherry’s son will only be granted the authority to manage the sale of the property. He will have no further authority to handle any of her other affairs.
The purpose of this power of attorney is to authorize your agent to make any and all decisions concerning your personal care, medical treatment, hospitalization and health care and to require, withhold or withdraw any type of medical treatment or procedure, have access to medical records, make anatomical gifts, have full power to authorize an autopsy and direct the disposition of your remains.
In addition to authorizing an agent to act on your behalf, the power of attorney for health care may also provide a “living will” also known as an “advanced directive.” This section should provide for specific instructions regarding the course of treatment that is to be followed by health care providers and caregivers. In some cases, a living will may forbid the use of various kinds of burdensome medical treatment. It may also be used to express wishes about the use or foregoing of food and water if supplied via tubes or other medical devices. The living will is used only if the individual has become unable to give informed consent or refusal due to incapacity. A living will can be very specific or very general. An example of a statement sometimes found in a living will is: “If I suffer an incurable, irreversible illness, disease or condition and my attending physician determines that my condition is terminal, I direct that life-sustaining measures that would serve only to prolong my death be withheld or discontinued.”
Having a power of attorney for health care does not revoke your right to participate in your medical care. A durable health care power of attorney only becomes effective when you no longer have the capacity to give, withdraw or withhold informed consent regarding your care.