What is Power of Attorney?
Power of attorney is a broad term. It generally describes scenarios where one adult has legal power over another adult. Power of attorney does not, however, imply absolute control over someone else’s life.
In California, power of attorney is a financial authority. Someone with can make money decisions for someone else. They can control this person’s budget, buy and sell property in their name, make investments for them, and so on.
Most states also allow someone to have authority over another’s health care. In California, medical power of attorney is called a “healthcare directive.” Someone with this power can consent to another’s treatments, prescriptions, surgeries, and so forth.
How Much Authority Does Power of Attorney Give?
Most people create their own power of attorney rules while planning for their estate. The person creating the agreement sets the boundaries. They can, for example, protect certain pieces of property. They could make sure that no one is allowed to touch their home, savings, and so on.
Healthcare directives are very similar. The person drafting the directive dictates its restrictions. For instance, they can choose whether someone else is allowed to cut off their life support.
In some cases, a person is incapacitated before creating their power of attorney plan. When this happens, a court can grant power of attorney to another. The court will determine the limit of authority in these instances.
When the “Cared-for” Person Removes Power of Attorney
There are many reasons why someone must remove another’s authority over them, including:
- Circumstances have changed. The cared-for individual has recovered from their ailment, is receiving better care, etc.
- A loss of trust. The cared-for person may believe that someone is taking advantage of them, stealing from them, and so on. In that case, they may be able to transfer power to another person or end power of attorney altogether.
In California, there are two types of power of attorney: durable and nondurable. You can change a durable power of attorney when necessary. Within your plan, you can create stipulations for how, when, and why you can make these changes.
A nondurable power of attorney remains active no matter what. Changing it requires a lot of work and effort in a courtroom. This can be difficult if you’ve been rendered disabled, requiring the need for power of attorney in the first place.
Power of Attorney Revoked by a Third Party
If you’re concerned that a loved one is being harmed by someone with power over them, you can file a petition with the court. You must present evidence for your claims, essentially building a case against the person with power of attorney.
Most often, such claims accuse someone of “undue influence.” This means they’ve taken more control than they should. Sometimes, they influence the cared-for person into financial decisions that benefit them, not the cared-for person.
Blocking a Revocation Attempt
If someone is mentally incapacitated, they can make self-destructive choices. A person who needs care may attempt to block or revoke their power of attorney. When you can no longer trust someone to make wise choices, it’s time to consider a conservatorship.
Conservators have a large degree of control over someone. They can manage this person’s finances and healthcare. Moreover, they can keep their ward from making poor, destructive choices. Conservatorship is difficult to achieve, especially when someone doesn’t agree with their need for care. Make sure you talk to a skilled attorney who can build a strong case, proving why someone needs a caretaker.
Contact our firm today for help with estate planning, power of attorney, or conservatorship. You can reach us online or call us at (916) 299-3936.