A power of attorney is a document that creates a relationship with another person and gives that person the right to act as if he or she were you. The person who authorizes another to act in his stead is called the principal, and the person who accepts authority is the agent. You can enable an agent to conduct a wide range of financial or health care matters on your behalf.

You do not have to go to court to execute one of these. To make the form valid and legally binding, you simply need to fill the form out with your name and your agent’s name, sign the form, and have two witnesses and a notary sign it. This is one of the main advantages of using a power of attorney―it saves time and money that would otherwise be spent going to court to appoint a guardian.

The other primary reason to draft a power of attorney is to plan for your health care and financial security well in advance, rather than having a guardian who is not familiar with your goals dictate these matters.