Power of Attorney Basics

Charleston General Power of AttorneyA power of attorney grants an individual, known as the agent, the legal authorization to make decisions on the behalf of another individual, known as the principal. The power of attorney typically comes into effect when the principal is incapacitated or physically incapable of properly managing their legal duties. The general power of attorney is very broad and allows the agent to make an array of legal decisions, ranging from business management to trust administration to medical choices. A specific or limited power of attorney alternatively outlines a limited scope of decisions for the appointed agent. Health care power of attorney, for instance, would be a specific case that legally authorizes the agent to make only medical care decisions when the principal is unable to do so.

In order to ensure that the principal may assume continued legal authority after incapacity, our Charleston estate planning attorneys often construct a durable power of attorney. The ordinary ability of the agent is revoked upon upon incapacity without any direct clause explicating durability. Under South Carolina state law, it is important that the legal agreement contains some specific language to ensure durability and the ability of the agent to make wise decisions. The intention of durability for the agent should be expressed follows:

“The power of attorney shall not be be affected by physical disability or mental incompetence of the principal which renders the principal incapable of managing his/her own estate. It is my intent that the authority conferred herein shall be exercisable notwithstanding my physical disability or mental incompetence.”

The Power of Attorney grants legal protection for the management of your estate assets, business and health needs should you become incapacitated or unable to make such decisions at any point.
The importance of establishing a clear plan for incapacity cannot be overstated. The power of attorney provides for protection in estate administration, asset protection  and healthcare needs. It is crucial for this reason to name a trusted loved one as the agent. Typically a married couple will list one another as the agent in the event of incapacity while single people will often select a sibling, parent or close friend. It is very important however to also choose a standby or successor in the even that the primary agent cannot serve. In the case of a married couple without a tertiary successor, if the the couple experiences an accident and one member dies or both become incapacitated, both members are not left without a capable agent to make urgent health-related decisions. Our Charleston estate planning attorneys provide legal counsel to individuals, families and professionals to establish a proper power of attorney agreement to make sure that health and estate matters are not jeopardized by incapacity.