California estate planning attorneys recommend the inclusion of a durable power of attorney in a typical estate plan. This legal instrument authorizes an appointed agent to act for the individual in his or her financial and personal affairs should the individual become incapacitated to perform such tasks. Probably the most important aspect regarding the power of attorney is deciding who to appoint as one's attorney-in-fact.
More specifically, that person is authorized to sign the incapacitated person's name and to do so in connection with the person's checking, investment and other accounts. This may include also the power to dispose of assets such as real estate. The appointed agent may also be charged with the authority to run the daily affairs of the individual's small business. With such broad authority, the choice of who to appoint may be a difficult one.
It is not always best to choose the most immediate family member; that person may not have the time or knowledge sufficient to handle all of one's life affairs. Sometimes, it may be necessary to appoint a financial institution as a power of attorney, especially in connection with complex business matters. That is a decision that the maker will make based on all of the circumstances. It can be helpful to make such decisions in cooperation with one's estate planning attorney.
It may also be prudent to appoint an alternative attorney-in-fact in the power of attorney to cover situations where the first selection is unavailable or unable to act. One can be assured of obtaining a power of attorney that fits his or her needs by having an experienced estate planning attorney draft the instrument after a thorough review of one's circumstances. This will also assure that one will include in the plan a full complement of the other legal instruments needed under California law for comprehensive estate planning needs.