Because of decreased cognitive and functional abilities, your family member with TBI may need you or another person to be named Power of Attorney to act for him or her in legal and financial issues. Check to see if your family member has already created a Power of Attorney (POA). A Power of Attorney is a written document in which a competent person, the principal, appoints another person, the agent, to act for him or her in legal and financial matters. In legal terms, a person is competent when he or she is able to reason and make decisions.
There are different types of POAs:
- A general power allows the agent to do any act or exercise any power on the principal’s behalf. Only use a general power when a special power is insufficient.
- A specific or special power limits the agent’s authority to only the act or acts listed in the POA document.
- A durable power of attorney permits the agent to continue to act on the principal’s behalf if he or she is incapacitated.
A Power of Attorney is created when the principal (your family member) signs a notarized document that legally authorizes another person to act on his or her behalf.
Most POAs last from a definite start time to a specific end time, but they may be created to last for an indefinite period. A POA can be revoked at any time for any reason. There are two ways to revoke a POA:
- By destroying the original document; and/or
- By executing a “Revocation of Power of Attorney” form and sending a certified copy to any financial institution or company where your agent has conducted business on your behalf. A Guardian can override or revoke a POA.