As you grow older, you may find it becoming more difficult to do things for yourself. Perhaps you first noticed it in the mornings when getting out of bed and walking down the stairs took longer because your knees and ankles hurt. With each holiday or annual occasion that rolls around, you are less able to participate as you used to. Now you are beginning to wonder if you will lose the ability to manage the necessary tasks of your daily life.
You may have heard of the benefits of signing a power of attorney, placing a trusted individual in charge of your medical and financial decisions. However, as long as you are able to manage, you believe there is still time to take care of that. This is one of several ways in which people commonly misunderstand critical elements of a power of attorney.
The time is right
Perhaps one of the most pervasive misconceptions of the power of attorney document is that by signing it, you relinquish all of your rights. This is why many believe it is best to wait until they are no longer legally competent to make their own decisions before signing a power of attorney.
The truth is that someone who does not have the mental capacity to make legal decisions can sign no legal document – especially one as delicate as a power of attorney. Waiting until you have lost your mental capacity, if such a time should arrive, may mean your loved ones will have to seek conservatorship over you through the courts in an emotionally difficult process.
I'm not ready to give up control of my life
Fear of losing your independence may be the main reason why you delay in establishing a power of attorney. However, having an understanding of some key elements regarding your choice of agents may assuage your fears, for example:
- While choosing an agent with business sense is important, it is more crucial to have an agent you trust.
- The fiduciary obligations of the agent require him or her to act in your best interests.
- A power of attorney does not grant your agent the right to act, but only grants the authority to act if the situation demands it.
- The laws protect you from agents who abuse their fiduciary positions.
- Your agent can only act within the limits of the document.
The limits placed on your agent come from the document, so it is wise to craft a power of attorney that is specific to your needs and within the laws of Texas. For this reason, using a generic power of attorney document from the internet instead of an experienced and compassionate attorney is not advisable.