There are primarily four different categories of power of attorney documents recognized in the state of California. You may use one of these or a combination of power of attorney documents depending on your goals and the person you are naming as your agent.

The four different types of recognized power of attorney documents in California include a durable power of attorney, a general power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a limited power of attorney. A durable power of attorney in California enables an agent appointed on behalf of the POA creator to make all necessary financial decisions for the principal if that person is not able to do so. Unlike probate planning, which address concerns after you pass away, this is about addressing issues while you’re still alive but can’t speak or think for yourself.

A general power of attorney is a longer form outlining specific powers given to the agent and enabling the agent to make financial decisions on the principal’s behalf. A medical power of attorney limits the decision making ability of the agent only to health care and medical issues, and a limited power of attorney explicitly states the agent’s authority to perform a specific transaction or duty.

How the power of attorney is set up is critical in order for this legal instrument to operate appropriately. To ensure the agent truly possesses all of the powers that you intend to give without overstepping the bounds and exposing yourself to future problems, scheduling a consultation with a California estate planning attorney could be the first step in helping you to determine how to use a POA document to your advantage.

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