POWERS OF ATTORNEY
A Durable Power of Attorney for Assets, commonly referred to as a "POA", is a legal document that allows a family member, friend, or other trusted individual (called an Agent or Attorney-in-Fact) to manage your assets and handle your finances in the event that you are unable to act on your own.
Because you are the one dictating the terms of the POA, you can set the limits of your Agent's power - meaning you can grant them as much or as little power as you think is necessary.
Common powers granted to an Agent include paying your bills, accessing your financial accounts, making sure your taxes get paid, and managing your real property.
Most POAs are durable - meaning they are still effective even if you become incapacitated.
For example, if you get into a car accident and you are temporarily in a coma, your Agent can pay your electricity bill until you regain consciousness. At that point, you can resume handling your own affairs.
If your incapacity is long-term (e.g., if you suffer from severe Alzheimer's or dementia), then a durable POA would allow your Agent to permanently step into your shoes.
When you create your POA, you have the option to give your Agent an "immediate" power. Essentially both you and your Agent have concurrent powers over your assets and finances.
Many elderly parents find it useful to appoint their children as immediate Agents. Even though they still have their mental faculties and are fully capable of handling their own affairs, their children can help them out periodically by paying medical bills or depositing checks at the bank on their behalf.