As a legal nurse consultant, you will encounter cases in which someone has power of attorney over another. This term can seem threatening to people. For example, when a husband gives a wife power of attorney, does that give her power over him? It does not. It’s a legal document in which he appointed his wife to act on his behalf in the event he is unable to do so for himself.
Say he is in a car crash and is admitted to the hospital. He has his own individual bank account. His wife needs to access money to pay joint bills from the bank account. The only way she would be able to do that is by having “Power of Attorney” over his finances in order to write and sign checks on his behalf, and do what needs to be done in order to properly handle his financial matters.
This document is also necessary if the husband and wife were in the process of selling any jointly owned property, such as a house or a car.
Basically, the person to whom he assigned this power can handle any legal or financial decisions on his behalf.
How does Power of Attorney Apply to You?
You need to give this power to the person or persons you trust most in your life. When you are legally of sound mind, you should be able to trust that this person. That trust becomes essential if you should lose that soundness of mind.
In like manner, if you are the one who holds power of attorney for a parent who may have dementia, you will take on the obligation to consider very carefully what they would want should they be capable of making legal and financial decisions. It’s a big responsibility.
What power of attorney gives to people is the ability to make financial decisions for you if you need that kind of help at some point in your life.
It’s probably best to have the power of attorney document drawn up by a lawyer. However, if you need to get one fast, you will find resources online, and you can get a legal power of attorney document for under $100. I am not recommending this, but it is an available resource.
Power of attorney can be shared. You might have two children and want them to both have that power should one be unavailable. This arrangement works well if your children get along. If they don’t, there could be trouble.
What is “Medical Power of Attorney?”
It’s important to distinguish between these two here because, as a nurse, you will be likely familiar with someone’s ability to make medical decisions for a patient who is unable to do so. This Is also called medical proxy.
Often, the same person will have both powers. However, having one doesn’t automatically confer the right to have the other. They are entirely separate—and both necessary. Both powers of attorney confer a big responsibility on their holder.
You may feel that these documents don’t apply to you – but as you, more than most people know, accidents can happen. It helps everyone if you have your own affairs in order.
None of us want to think about infirmity or death applying to us. But the more organized and aware you are of all of the important details of your financial status, the more peace of mind it gives you.
Pat Iyer is president of The Pat Iyer Group, which develops resources to assist LNCs obtain more clients, make more money and achieve their business goals and dreams.
Pat’s related websites include the LNC business coaching services she offers through LNCAcademy.com, the continuing education provided on LNCEU.com, the podcasts broadcast at podcast.legalnursebusiness.com, and writing tips supplied at patiyer.com.
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