How Soon Should I Set Up Power of Attorney in California?

A power of attorney can be set up for anyone regardless of age. However, most conversations about assigning a power of attorney happen in the sunset stage of life. If you are considering this option for yourself now or in the future, you should determine a few things first. Learn more about this responsibility and how soon you should consider setting up this legal document.

Do I Need a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney (POA) can be helpful if you won’t be able to manage yourself or your affairs for much longer, or simply want to plan ahead in the event you are incapacitated. Declining health or challenges with financial management are the most common reasons for a person to seek a power of attorney. 

If you’ve determined that you need or want to designate a power of attorney, ensure that it is someone you can trust to handle your affairs in your best interests. Financial elder abuse can also be an unexpected issue for seniors.

Related Article: Reasons to Get Power of Attorney for a Parent with Alzheimer’s

What Forms Do I Need?

First, you must decide which type of POA fits your wishes. Below you will find a bulleted list of different types of power of attorney you can have in the Golden State. 

Types of Power of Attorney in California:

    • Durable – Financial only. Remains in effect until the death of the principal or until the document is revoked
    • General – This type of power of attorney is non-durable which means that it only remains in effect while the principal is alive, and not incapacitated.
    • Guardianship (also referred to as parental POA) – A short-term guardian for one or more minor children. This covers the child(ren)’s education, health, and everyday care.
    • Limited (known as a “specific” power of attorney) – allows a resident of the state to designate an agent to take care of a specific financial matter on their behalf. The matter can be as small as picking up a car to as big as selling or buying real estate.
    • Medical (or “Advance Directive”) – Health care decision-making when the parent may not be able to represent themselves.
    • Tax – Used to allow someone else (mostly accountants) to handle another’s federal and state income tax filing.
    • Vehicle (also referred to as DMV Form REG-260) – permits an owner of a vehicle or vessel located in California to choose an agent to handle a transfer of ownership.

How Do I Set Up a Power of Attorney?

Once you’ve collected the correct forms and have designated your POA, your first step is to print out the forms, fill them out, and keep them handy. Avoid jumping the gun and signing documents immediately, as these forms are void if filled out in the absence of a notary.

The next step is to schedule a visit to the notary’s office. Before you head out the door, ensure that you have your forms of identification. A notary must be present to sign and witness you sign documents so they are valid. Once signed and notarized, create copies for yourself, the attorney in effect. 

Consider seeing an attorney for help in setting up a power of attorney. Reasons to see an attorney would include the following: you have a large estate, family members are fighting over who should take financial control, or you want a comfort level that it is being done correctly.

Do you need help with your finances?

If you need help, please contact us by filling out our Contact Form or by giving our office a call at +1(951)686-3608.

As the most experienced CPA in the Inland Empire who specializes in working with seniors, Marcia L. Campbell is committed to helping each client thrive by caring for their personal and financial wellbeing with genuine interest, well-established expertise, and a focus on respectful partnerships. Marcia’s team specializes in a number of services including elder & financial care, court & trust accountings as well as private fiduciary and tax services. At Marcia L. Campbell, CPA, we understand the importance of our clients’ individual needs and are committed to helping them make the best personal and financial decisions for their future.

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