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Power of Attorney Lawyer in Oakland, California

A power of attorney (POA) is an important estate planning document that allows a designated person to supervise your personal, financial, or healthcare decisions. A valid power of attorney helps ensure that your affairs are managed the way you want, particularly in situations when illness or incapacity prevents you from making decisions on your own.  

At the Law Offices of Gary R. Kershner, I understand the significant role a POA plays in protecting your assets and estate. With my years of experience, I can help you create a POA that represents your best interests (and those of your loved ones) and is in line with California law. 

Located in Oakland, California, I proudly serve clients throughout the Bay Area, including Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville, Rockridge, Piedmont, Fruitvale, Fremont, San Jose, San Francisco, and beyond.  

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What Is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) enables a person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to make decisions on behalf of another, known as the principal, in legal, financial, or health matters. It ensures that the principal’s wishes are adhered to in situations where they are unable to make decisions for themselves. 

A well-crafted POA allows your specified agent to oversee all your (the principal's) personal and financial affairs, or it can be limited to specific tasks, such as handling business deals, selling property, or managing bank transactions. In California, a POA can be designed to be immediate or springing, which means it can become effective only under specific circumstances, such as the principal's incapacitation. 

Types of Powers of Attorney in California

In California, estate planning law recognizes several forms of POAs, each with different applications depending on your specific circumstances. The types of POAs include: 

  • General Power of Attorney: Provides an agent or attorney-in-fact with extensive authority to manage the principal's personal and financial affairs. This includes overseeing financial dealings, purchasing and selling property, and managing business affairs. However, this POA is void if the principal becomes incapacitated or dies. 

  • Durable Power of Attorney: Remains valid even if the principal becomes incapacitated. This allows the agent to provide uninterrupted management of the principal’s affairs, making it a pivotal part of estate planning. This kind of POA must clearly state its durability to make sure it remains valid even if the principal becomes incapacitated. 

  • Advance Healthcare Directive (Medical POA): Allows the agent to make healthcare decisions on the principal’s behalf, as per California law, making sure the principal's wishes for medical treatment, medicine, and surgery are respected when they cannot speak for themselves. 

  • Limited or Special Power of Attorney: Grants the agent authority for specific transactions or periods. This type of POA is often used in situations where the principal cannot manage certain affairs personally. 

  • Springing Power of Attorney: Becomes effective only when specific conditions are met, such as the principal’s incapacitation, the inability of the principal to manage their finances, or the inability of the principal to make decisions under sound mind. 

At the Law Offices of Gary R. Kershner, I can help you understand your options and determine the best type of POA for your needs. My goal is to make sure that your POA document complies with California law while accurately reflecting your intentions. 

How to Create a Power of Attorney in California

Creating a power of attorney in California involves a series of steps to make sure the document is legally sound and reflects your intentions. While the process is straightforward, it's recommended to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in California estate planning law. The key steps for creating a POA in California include: 

  1. Select the Right Type of POA: Decide which type of POA fits your needs—whether it is general, durable, healthcare, limited, or springing. The decision will depend on the level of authority you want to grant your agent and the specific circumstances for granting a POA. 

  1. Carefully Choose an Agent: Choose someone reliable, trustworthy, and capable to act as your agent. This person will have significant responsibilities if you become unable to manage your affairs and will be in charge of your finances and assets. 

  1. Draft a POA Document: With assistance from an experienced estate planning attorney, draft a POA that clearly outlines the scope of authority granted to your agent. Be sure to decide whether the authority granted is general or limited, and make sure it is legally sound under California law. 

  1. Sign and Execute the POA: For a POA to be valid in California, it must be signed by you (the principal) and either acknowledged before a notary public or signed by two witnesses. In California, witnesses must be adults and cannot be the designated agent, beneficiaries of the principal, or related to the principal by blood or marriage. 

  1. Regularly Review and Update Your POA: Life often changes, and so might your POA needs. Therefore, I recommend that you regularly review and update your POA to make sure it always reflects your current wishes and relationships. 

Establishing a power of attorney is a significant step toward making sure your affairs are managed according to your wishes. If you’re in Oakland, California, or the surrounding areas, I’m ready to provide the guidance and support you need to establish an effective POA. 

Power of Attorney FAQs

Q: Can I revoke a power of attorney in California?  

A: Yes, as long as you are mentally competent, you can revoke or change your POA at any time. Generally, this process should be documented in writing and the information should be shared with any third parties involved with the POA, especially your designated agent. 

Q: What are the limitations of a power of attorney? 

A: A POA does not grant your agent unlimited power. Instead, your agent is limited to the powers specified in the POA document and must act in your best interest and within the scope of authority granted by the California statutes. 

Q: Are agents under a POA able to make any decisions after the principal's death? 

A: Generally, no. Your agent's authority under a POA usually ends upon the principal's death, at which point the executor or administrator of the estate takes over, as dictated by the will or state law. However, if you sign a durable POA, your agent can continue to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself. 

Q: Is a separate POA needed for healthcare decisions in California? 

A: Yes, healthcare decisions require an Advance Healthcare Directive, California's version of a medical POA. This document allows you to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you and can include specific instructions about treatment preferences or life-saving surgery. 

Power of Attorney Lawyer in Oakland, California 

Creating a power of attorney is an essential step in planning for your future and that of your loved one. At the Law Offices of Gary R. Kershner, I am dedicated to ensuring your power of attorney meets your individual needs and adheres to California law. Contact me today to schedule a free consultation, and let's begin the process of creating an effective and legally-sound power of attorney.