In general terms, the power of attorney is a legal document created to allow you to name a trusted person to temporarily act on your behalf. It empowers that one individual to act as your “agent” to take care of things when you are unable to do so. It is a common and recommended part of any good estate plan.“ A parental power of attorney is useful when a parent or guardian becomes sick or hospitalized, travels overseas, or is otherwise unable to care for their child for a short period.
The state of Arizona recognizes the use of power of attorney in family law, specifically in regards to the parental power of authority. Nicole Pavlik is an experienced Phoenix-based attorney who can assist you with creating a parental power of attorney for your family.
Caring for Minors
Granting the parental power of attorney to another adult can seem unnecessary until some unplanned situation arises. Responsible parents accept legal responsibility for their minor (child) and make decisions with their welfare in mind. Therefore parents do not need additional legal authorization such as a power of attorney.
However, parental power of attorney could be required when assigning a trusted individual to make decisions on your behalf for the sake of your children. As with estate planning, power of attorney may be needed if the parent suffers an accident, is hospitalized or is unavailable to care for or make decisions for their children.
Having a parental power of attorney document can ease any concerns about the care and welfare of your children, for the short-term or in some cases, for a longer period of time. The parent can either delegate all parental responsibilities or the parent can delegate specific parental responsibilities. For example, a parent could give their agent-specific power in education such as the power to enroll the child in school, grant permission for school trips, and participate in teacher conferences. Or a parent could delegate the power to make healthcare decisions for the child, whether routine or emergency in nature.
When to Assign Parental Power of Attorney
It should be noted here that parental power of authority does not have to be established only in case of an emergency. Though including a parental power of authority in your estate plan is like having a fire extinguisher; even if you never find yourself needing it, you should have one at the ready just in case the unexpected happens.
Arizona’s parental power of authority can be established by the parents at any time. Some uses include:
• Long periods of work away from home, which would hamper the ability to make day-to-day decisions on behalf of the minors.
• Any period of incarceration. Physical imprisonments would obviously present care challenges.
• Military services that require long deployments.
• Long-term medical care requiring separation from the minors in question. A person in a coma or undergoing specialized medical care may not be capable of making decisions for minors.
Shorter periods of separation generally don’t come into play. If you plan on leaving your minors in the care of a trusted friend while you go out of town for the weekend, you may not need to grant power of attorney to the friend for two days. That being said, it would be wise to maybe have a parental power of attorney in case the child has an accident and your friend has to take them to the hospital and can not reach you. You may want that person to have the authority to make healthcare decisions quickly, decisions you have already discussed with him/her.
Want to learn more about parental power of attorney in the state of Arizona? Contact the Nicole Pavlik