The question, “how can I get power of attorney” for a person is among the most frequent inquiries our estate planning department receives. Most people have a general idea of what a power of attorney is, however, relatively few understand how it is granted and when it can be granted. This article will discuss the two main types of power of attorney and what they cover, how someone can grant power of attorney to another person, and the importance of capacity during execution of the power of attorney.
What is Power of Attorney and What Authority Can it Grant?
Nevada law defines “Power of Attorney” as “a writing or other record that grants authority to acting the place of the principal.” The principal is the “individual who grants authority to an agent in a power of attorney.”
Nevada deals mainly with two types of power of attorney: Power of Attorney for Financial Matters and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions. Each power of attorney is important in its own sphere and a principal should ideally execute both.
The financial power of attorney allows the principal to appoint an agent to whom she can grant authority over several items including real property, personal property, bank accounts, and the personal maintenance of the principal. The principal can also elect whether to make the power of attorney effective immediately or upon the determination of doctor that the principal no longer has capacity.
The health care power of attorney allows the principal to appoint an agent she authorizes to make health care decisions on her behalf if she is otherwise unable to make those decisions herself. This power of attorney also allows the principal to declare her desires in regard to whether she wants life prolonging treatments commenced or continued.
Execution of Power of Attorney
Nevada law requires certain procedures to validly execute a power of attorney. The financial power of attorney and power of attorney for health care decisions both have their own set of requires for the actual execution of the power of attorney.
The financial power of attorney must be sign by the principal, or in the principal’s conscious presence by a person directed by the principal to sign the principal’s name. The signature is presumed to be valid if notarized.
The health care power of attorney must be signed by the principal and the signature must either be notarized or witnessed by two adults who know the principal personally. The witnesses also cannot be a health care provider or the appointed agent and the at least one witness must be a person who is not related to principal and has no interest in the principal’s estate.
The Importance of Capacity
Besides proper execution, the statutes governing power of attorney also provide extra requirements for validity in certain situations to ensure that the principal is competent to execute the power of attorney. One of the most important aspects of establishing a power of attorney is that this is not an authority or position that a potential agent can actively seek out and obtain on their own; you cannot go and “get” power of attorney. Rather, this authority is granted to the agent by the principal of their own volition. A person lacking capacity cannot make this appointment.
Nevada law is careful to only allow competent persons with capacity to execute powers of attorney. The law is so concerned with a principal’s competency that it requires proof of competency in certain cases. The statutes for both the financial power of attorney and the health care power of attorney provide that, “if the principal resides in a hospital, residential facility for groups, facility for skilled nursing or home for individual residential care,” when the power of attorney is executed, the power of attorney must be accompanied by a certificate of competency from a physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist declaring that the principal has the requisite capacity to execute the power of attorney.
The Importance of Power of Attorney
A valid power of attorney is a vital part of any person’s estate planning. Unlike other parts of an estate plan which contemplate what happens after a person dies, powers of attorney take into account a person’s needs during their lifetime. In many cases, a valid power of attorney can prevent the need for a court-appointed guardianship. The cost of having the power of attorney correctly executed is well worth any person’s time and can certainly simplify matters when caring for a loved one in need of assistance.
 NRS 162A.090.
 NRS 162A.110.
 NRS 162A.220(1).
 NRS 162A.790(2).
 NRS 162A.790(3)-(4).
 NRS 162A.220(2); NRS 162A.790(5).