Powers of Attorney and Living Wills

Estate Planning Lawyers Guiding Sacramento Residents

At some point in their lives, most people consider the possibility that they may get into a car crash or develop a serious illness. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks beyond this to the next step, which is to think about what their loved ones should do if they are faced with the possibility of a vegetative state, life on a respirator, or life in an institution. Everyone should make plans to prepare for the possibility of a serious illness or disability, and they should have these plans translated into documents that would hold up in court. Powers of attorney and living wills are legal instruments that allow individuals to express their preferences for medical care in case they become unable to communicate their decisions in the moment. The Sacramento estate planning attorneys at Travis G. Black & Associates can help you draft these documents to ensure that your wishes are respected.

Powers of Attorney and Living Wills

A living will is a legal instrument that provides for the medical treatments that you would want or not want in a particular situation. For example, it might provide a request that a doctor issue a "do not resuscitate" order under certain circumstances.

Often, a power of attorney will supplement what is in a living will, although a power of attorney may be created that applies to a broader range of situations than a living will. It is a legal instrument that authorizes someone to perform certain legal acts on your behalf. For example, it might authorize someone to consent to your being put on an artificial respirator that you need when you cannot make the authorization yourself. When you grant authority to someone else to provide consent or take certain acts, you are the principal, and the person to whom you granted authority is an agent.

In order to execute a power of attorney, you need to be able to enter into a contract. You must be at least 18 years old and mentally competent, which means that you need to enter into a power of attorney before you become mentally incapacitated or otherwise debilitated. You cannot wait until something catastrophic happens to make plans. A power of attorney may grant your agent authorization to take any legal acts that you are allowed to perform for yourself, including selling your home. It may be durable or non-durable. The former is valid even after you become unable to talk or write, but a non-durable power of attorney expires if you are unable to communicate. Generally, when health care is at issue, you must create a durable power of attorney.

Our firm can advise you and help you put a power of attorney in writing, sign it, date it, and have it witnessed by either a notary public or two adults who can sign the power of attorney. The person whom you designate as your agent should not be a witness. Most often, people name their spouse, a family member, or a very close and reliable friend as their agent. Your health care provider and its employees, as well as operators of care facilities and their employees who are not related to you (or your domestic partner or a coworker), may not be an agent.

What if your attorney-in-fact dies or becomes disabled? A power of attorney should include instructions about what should happen—modification or revocation—in case of certain events or after the power of attorney has been fulfilled.

Consult an Estate Planning Attorney in Sacramento or Surrounding Areas

It is common for people to neglect to plan for what will happen in case they become disabled or sick. In California, a power of attorney and living will are often combined and put into an advance health care directive. If you are interested in preparing these documents, you should retain a Sacramento estate planning lawyer. Attorney Travis G. Black takes care to prepare accurate wills and trusts that clearly convey your intentions. Our Folsom firm offers diligent legal representation to people who need a wills attorney or assistance in other estate planning matters. Contact us online or call Travis G. Black & Associates at 916-962-2896 for a free consultation.