Power of Attorney

An Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer Who Can Protect Your Assets

You make a lot of decisions about your finances and about your health. But what happens if you become unable to make such decisions? A power of attorney gives another person the legal ability to make certain decisions on your behalf. It’s important to choose someone you trust and to have an experienced attorney guide you through the process.

Hongo Law Office, LLLC serves clients in Japan and Hawaii. Attorney Yuka Hongo understands the situations in which a power of attorney may be necessary, as well as the concerns people have about these documents. She can meet with you to review your goals and create a power of attorney that meets your needs.

What is a power of attorney?

It is a legal document that gives another person the power to make certain decisions for you, if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. It’s basically an agreement between two parties. A “principal” is the person granting power to make decisions to another person, who is the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.”

A power of attorney can be limited in scope or general, as well as temporary or permanent. It may become effective immediately or only when you become legally incapacitated. Any power of attorney you sign should have very clear language about which powers are granted and when they take effect.

Do I need a power of attorney?

There are different reasons why you may need someone to make decision for you. One reason is financial. A power of attorney gives someone the legal authority to use your assets to pay regular expenses, buy and sell property, maintain property, manage investments, conduct banking transactions and pay taxes.

Another common reason is for making health care decisions. If you become incapacitated, an agent is authorized to consult doctors and other medical professionals and make health care decisions for you. Having a discussion with your agent ahead of time can ensure you get the type of care you want to receive.

What are different types of power of attorney?

One type is durable power of attorney. This gives another person the authority to make financial decisions on the principal’s behalf even if the principal becomes incapacitated. This includes the power to use funds to pay bills, but or sell property, make investments, conduct banking transactions and file taxes.

Another type is health care power of attorney. This gives another person the authority to make health care decisions on the principal’s behalf if the principal becomes incapacitated. This includes the power to consent for medical treatment, choose medical professionals for treatment and make decisions about which medical facilities to use.

Who should I choose as power of attorney?

Choosing someone to be a durable or health care power of attorney is an important decision. It can be anyone you want. Many people choose spouses, children or other relatives. Close friends can also serve as power of attorney. Some people choose a legal or financial professional to be serve as durable power of attorney.

Whoever you choose, it should be someone you trust with that kind of responsibility. There are also other considerations. Not everyone will agree with decisions made while you are incapacitated. So, the person you choose should be assertive enough to make decisions based on your wishes. The person should also be willing to take on the responsibility.

When does a power of attorney begin and end?

A power of attorney should include language that makes it clear when it goes into effect. That could be as soon as you sign it. Or you may want to specify that it does not take effect until a doctor or other medical professional determines that you are incapacitated and are not capable of making decisions.

There are several ways in which a power of attorney ends. It automatically ends at death, meaning the agent no longer has control over your finances. It also ends if the agent dies before the principal, unless an alternate agent was named. You can also choose to revoke the power of attorney at any time.

Start planning for the future today

A power of attorney is an important part of a comprehensive estate plan. Nobody expects to become incapacitated at some point in the future. It can happen, however, leaving your family with many financial and health care decisions to make. A power of attorney lets you choose who you want to make those decisions.

Attorney Yuka Hongo can meet with you to review your situation, discuss your goals, explain your options and create an estate plan that includes power of attorney. It’s never too early to start planning ahead. Many clients find taking the time to create an estate plan helps them feel more confident about their family’s future.

Learn more about power of attorney and estate planning. Contact us to schedule a consultation at our Honolulu office. Attorney Hongo also typically travels twice a year to Japan, where she gives estate planning seminars and meets with clients.