Washington, like most states, can grant individuals the power to make decisions on a person’s behalf if they are physically or mentally incapable of doing so.
This is done via a document called the power of attorney.
The scope of such a document can only allow an agent to only make health care decisions on a person’s behalf. Or, it can allow the agent to make medical, financial, and other personal decisions.
A power of attorney grants a person a lot of power. Therefore, it is essential that a power of attorney lawyer carefully draw up this document. Accordingly, the power must be in the hands of someone whom you trust completely.
At the Elder Law Group, PLLC, our attorneys can help you draft a sound legal document that is sure to protect you.
Scope and Effective Date of Power of Attorney in Washington State
As mentioned above, the scope of a power of attorney can be minimal or expansive.
A person can elect a power of attorney to make crucial health care decisions when they are unable. Likewise, that same person can elect an agent to make crucial decisions regarding medical matters, legal matters, and financial matters. Some people choose one person to act on their behalf in medical situations and another to make financial decisions. A general power of attorney grants a person to make decisions for a principal’s minor children.
Typically, individuals elect powers of attorney to act on their behalf only when they become physically or mentally incapacitated. However, a general power of attorney may take effect immediately. It is essential that you clearly outline when a power of attorney should take effect. You may unwittingly forfeit your rights to make decisions for yourself.
Revoking a Power of Attorney
It is not uncommon for individuals to wish to revoke a power of attorney. Revocation can happen for a number of reasons. Sometimes, principals revoke power because they no longer trust their agents. Other times, they revoke power simply because they decided that such power is not necessary.
You may suddenly decide that you want to un-elect an agent. If so, you can simply draw up a statement that the original power of attorney is no longer in effect. Sign and date the document and then have a witness. If you included a clause in your original document regarding how to cancel a document, just follow the rules set forth in the clause.
However, if you are incapacitated and the agent already holds the power of attorney, the document can only be canceled via court order.
Work With an Elder Law Attorney to Draft a Binding and Protective Document
Your power of attorney can safeguard your health and financial future in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. For this reason, it is essential that you not only elect a trustworthy agent, but also, that your document is clear in its scope and intentions, lays out specific limitations, and is legally valid and binding.