Powers of attorney allow other people to act for you in an emergency.
Non-citizens can sign powers of attorney in California to protect loved ones in the state and elsewhere. These legal documents allow another person (called an agent) to take actions for you and in your place.
California law does recognize that people sometimes sign a power of attorney elsewhere, and if that document meets California legal requirements or the requirements of the other location it could be used here. (Probate Code § 4053.) However, play it safe by signing a power of attorney that is specifically tailored to meet California law.
First, make sure that one or more of the following is true when you sign the power of attorney:
- You are domiciled in California
- Your power of attorney relates to property, acts, or transactions in California
- The person acting as your agent, listed in the power of attorney, will perform acts in California
- You sign the power of attorney in California
If these qualifications are not met, the power of attorney may not be effective in California. (Probate Code § 4052.) If you later move outside of California, the power of attorney should still be effective as to property, acts, and transactions here.
Next, choose the types of power of attorney that you need. California law permits several kinds, depending on when and why you need someone to act for you.
The durable power of attorney allows someone to act for you even if you become incapacitated to do things yourself.
A financial power of attorney allows an agent to make financial decisions for you and transact business.
Limited or special powers of attorney give an agent limited power to perform certain tasks, such as childcare if you are unavailable or out of the country.
Finally, the advance health care directive combines a health care power of attorney with a living will to allow your agent to make health care decisions and explain your healthcare-related wishes.
Non-U.S. citizens who have U.S. citizen children may want powers of attorney that appoint an agent to care for their children if they have to leave the United States suddenly. (Also, you should explore temporary or emergency guardianship options.) If you own property in the United States, you may want an agent who can handle the property and related business if you are stuck outside the country. Anyone with medical problems can use an advance health care directive to make sure their wishes are honored while seriously ill in California.
Interested in estate planning for non-U.S. citizens or green card holders? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience and her certification as a California estate planning and probate specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization will give you confidence and peace of mind.
To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit our website or call us at (650) 469-8206 today.