A Power of Attorney can help make your life much easier, by allowing someone you trust to take certain actions on your behalf. Without this document, you might not be able to travel out of town, make certain investments, or handle business or personal affairs.
This document can be used to handle a variety of situations, and can be customized based on your need. You can grant a POA related to different areas of your life, with varying degrees of power for the agent, and for any timeframe that you desire.
In addition, if you ever become incapacitated, without this document, even if you have a spouse, the court may need to step in and appoint a guardian or conservator for you. The process of appointing a guardian is costly and requires the guardian to formally report your situation to the court each year. CNN Money estimates that the process of obtaining a court appointed guardian exceeds $1,000. If this is the situation you find yourself in now, please read our guide about getting guardianship over your elderly parent here.
Powers of Attorney in the United States are subject to the laws of individual states, so the document changes to conform to your particular state s laws. There is no overall federal law concerning Powers of Attorney, but there is a model Uniform Power of Attorney Act which many states have adopted, fully or partially.