I want my child or friend to take care of my affairs when I am no longer able to do so. What should I do to make sure he/she will have the power to act when that time comes?

You have many options available and each option varies by the amount of control your are willing to give to the person you wish to have the power to make certain decisions for you. Please see the table below which describes many of the options available to you as you prepare for incapacity.

Legal Device Party Who Chooses Your Decision-maker Type of Decision the Legal Device Covers Timeframe
You The Court Your Doctor Financial or Property Personal or Healthcare
(Financial) Power of Attorney x x Effective when executed or otherwise state in the device, power ends when revoked or you die
Medical Power of Attorney x x Effective upon your incapacity, may be revoked if you regain capacity
Guardian x x The court determines when this device is effective
Conservator x x The court determines when this device is effective
Healthcare Surrogate x x Effective when appointed, becomes ineffective when you regain capacity
Living Will n/a n/a n/a x Effective upon your incapacity, may be changed while you are competent

For more information, see: West Virginia Health Care Decisions Act, W. Va. Code §§ 16-30-1 to -24 (2014); Uniform Power of Attorney Act 39B-1-101, et seq. (2014); Mental Capacity Standards in West Virginia: A Handbook on Legal Decisionmaking Authority (June 2002). A copy of this publication can be obtained by contacting West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc. at 1 (800) 229-5068.