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Powers of Attorney

Most of us have seen the frailties of life impact loved ones and friends. Unfortunately, diminished capacity, including the inability to make sound decisions, is sometimes the result. Court-monitored guardianship proceedings are designed to help in such situations. But as with most court proceedings, they can be time-consuming and expensive.

Fortunately, alternatives exist. For instance, without court involvement, powers of attorney allow you to designate in advance another individual to make decisions on your behalf. He or she is bound to act in your best interests and in accordance with any instructions you give.

Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions. This document gives your agent various powers to make financial decisions on your behalf. These powers typically include the ability to open and close bank accounts, buy and sell property, manage real estate, operate a business, handle tax matters, or otherwise manage your assets. You can also give your agent the power to make gifts, alter terms of a family trust, or change beneficiary designations. Such powers typically become effective immediately upon signing and terminate upon death or revocation. However, you can also create a power of attorney for a limited purpose or a specific time period.

Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions. This document gives your agent powers to obtain medical information or make medical decisions on your behalf. It can include powers to access and review personal medical information, as well as powers to consent to, withhold, or stop certain medical treatments. However, your agent typically has the right to exercise these powers only if you become incapacitated. These powers commonly terminate upon death, revocation, or the occurrence of some future event. For example, you can specify that the powers only remain valid during a particular surgery or while you’re traveling, such that when the event in question has concluded, the powers are automatically revoked.

As with any legal document, it’s always wise to seek counsel from an experienced attorney before signing. Rod Woodbury can be reached at 702-933-0777 or by e-mail at

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