A power of attorney is a signed document by which one person, called a principal, gives another person, called an agent, the legal right to manage the principal’s property or health care decisions. Like other legal documents, this one is flexible. You can authorize the agent to do almost anything you have the right to do, or you can authorize only one specific task. In most cases, a durable power of attorney would be best. Durable means the power would remain in effect after the principal loses the ability to make decisions. Otherwise, you can write the document so that it is only valid for a particular period, which could be useful if you know you will be away from business for that period, but need an agent to oversee your business.

Executing a power of attorney is also beneficial because it avoids the need to go to court to appoint a guardian. If you lose the ability to make decisions, a court would have to appoint a guardian to oversee your finances and health care, which could be a lengthy process.