Why is a Power of Attorney necessary in Wisconsin?

power of attorney document for parent to sign for a child

A power of attorney is one of the most important parts of estate planning—and one that many Wisconsinites overlook. Many people believe that a will, the most popular estate planning document, is the sole document needed and addresses every situation. The reality is that a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Power of Attorney are two important estate planning documents that make a difficult time easier for a family.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney in Wisconsin?

A Durable Power of Attorney designates a party to act for another person. The Durable Power of Attorney specifies when the designation comes into effect, such as immediately or when the person is incapacitated. The designee may make financial decisions (i.e. pay bills, purchase or sell real estate, etc.), give out gifts, apply for benefits, modify investment and retirement plans, and perform other actions on behalf of another. Because the Durable Power of Attorney gives the designee significant powers, anyone considering the designation should carefully consider who to designate. In some cases, the right designee may be an organization.

What can a Health Care Power of Attorney do?

A Health Care Power of Attorney is another designation that relates specifically to health care decisions. The designee can make decision about the health of another party, especially when a person is incapacitated or incompetent. This estate planning document is also the location where a party can spell out their wishes for health care for the designee. This designation can name the same party who acts as the executor of the will or receives the Durable Power or Attorney designation, or can be a completely different party.

Why is a Power of Attorney important?

A Power of Attorney is invaluable during times when a person is incapacitated or unable to make decisions. If a Durable Power of Attorney is not named in Wisconsin, the family may need to go to court and get a guardian appointed. The process can be expensive and cumbersome during an already difficult period.

The Power of Attorney process can be done independently or as part of the estate planning process with an experienced lawyer. The document should be notarized and can be drafted with broad powers over a person’s affairs or with specific instructions about what powers and when the document goes into effect.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

How can I be granted power of attorney for my parent?

power of attorney document for parent to sign for a childThere are a number of situations where a child would need authorization to make decisions for their parents; it could be part of a difficult medical diagnosis, estate planning process, or another situation. Whatever your situation, here are the basics a child needs to know when they need to become a power of attorney for their parent (a lawyer can give you more detailed information specific to your situation).

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal process where the parent authorizes a party (or parties) to make decisions on their behalf. There are two kinds of Power Attorney that can be named by a parent:

  • Power of Attorney for Finance and Property. The Power of Attorney for Finance and Property designates another person to make legal and financial decisions when a person (in this case, a parent) can’t. This document can limit those powers or grant a broad breadth to the “agent” (that person), dependent on the wishes expressed by the party (in your case, your parent).
  • Power of Attorney for Health Care & Declaration to Physicians. The Declaration to Physicians document states any preferences your parent may have regarding treatment or any life-saving measures they would like taken (or not taken) in the event of a medical emergency and gives the agent the power to make decisions in those situations. Examples of situations where a Declaration to Physician document would be used if the parent is in a deteriorating mental state, permanent vegetative state, unconscious, or in a coma.

When can the power of attorney be named?

A parent can name a power of attorney at any time, as part of the estate planning process or after a diagnosis. The parent must be able to understand what they are doing and the documents they are signing. The power of attorney named can be any competent adult, such as a spouse, friend, or child.

How can a child become a power of attorney for a parent?

For a power of attorney for finance and property, the document can be drafted to cover as much—or as little—as needed. The parent can give the child, their power of attorney, the power to sign tax returns or to completely manage their financial resources for as long or as short of a period as needed. Because granting power of attorney is a legal process and can drafted to fit a specific situation, the best way to get the process started and completed is to contact an attorney.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.