As Americans, our legal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are considered inalienable. When our lives become complicated by our careers, families and health problems, however, those deeply personal rights need protecting. Power of attorney is a useful legal tool often used in cases where a person needs the legal aid of a representative. This tool is often used in situations where a person is incapacitated and can no longer make responsible decisions for themselves.
When it comes to veterans, however, power of attorney is often used by veterans filing VA benefits claims. Far from unable to make their own decisions about their legal rights, veterans opting for power of attorney are confident in their decision to seek help filing a VA disability claim. Since VA Form 21-22 grants a person the power to act as a representative of a veteran when pursuing a claim, the entire claims process becomes simpler and easier for the veteran to oversee. By allowing a trusted consultant, attorney or representative to advocate on their behalf, veterans seize the chance to present the best claim possible to the VA.
Military Power of Attorney, Explained
Anyone who has ever been deployed has likely been advised to get power of attorney just in case someone back home needs to handle financial or legal issues on their behalf while they are away. While power of attorney can certainly help in that situation, different types of power of attorney can be applied in different ways. The legal document a veteran signs to get help filing a VA claim is very different than the type of a power of attorney form signed by someone with dementia, or by someone traveling out of the country. The four kinds of power of attorney include:
General power of attorney
This kind of power of attorney gives a representative power over a person’s finances, real estate holdings and medical decisions. Often utilized by elderly people giving a trusted family member the ability to make decisions on their behalf, this kind of all-encompassing power of attorney is not often used by veterans seeking VA disability benefits. General power of attorney, however, can be limited by the language in the document, making this a highly adaptable legal tool.
Durable and springing powers of attorney
Durable power of attorney grants a representative authority over a person’s finances in times when they cannot handle them on their own, either temporarily or permanently. This type of power of attorney is often written in “springing” form, which ties the authority of the power of attorney to a specific incidence that will activate the power. Because physicians are often hesitant to declare someone incapacitated even when it is clear that they are, springing power of attorney creates a solution by outlining specific events.
Specific power of attorney
When a person is named the representative of a specific aspect of another person’s life, they need this kind of power of attorney. For example, a businessman might sign a specific power of attorney allowing his business partner to make decisions for the company on his behalf should he suffer a heart attack. Or, for instance, a veteran may wish to designate their attorney as their personal representative when filing a VA disability claim.
Disability Lawyers and Power of Attorney
Though many people associate power of attorney with authority given to a friend or loved one, assigning power of attorney to a lawyer can be particularly helpful for veterans. Many veterans seeking benefits opt to hire a VA disability attorney to help with their claim and give them power of attorney to make the process easier for everyone involved. Seeking benefits is not always straight-forward, and while no one can speed up the process of filing for benefits, a lawyer can act on behalf of the veteran and ensure their best interests are kept in mind. A power of attorney allows lawyers to file paperwork on behalf of their clients.
When granting power of attorney authority to a lawyer, veterans should bear in mind the limits of the authority. By granting specific power of attorney relating to the VA benefits process, veterans can ensure their lawyer may only make decisions regarding their VA disability claim. Though some kinds of powers of attorney allow representatives to make financial and medical decisions on behalf of others, a power of attorney for VA purposes ONLY allows the representative to communicate with the VA and file documents with the VA on the veteran’s behalf. While having a power of attorney for VA purposes will not necessarily speed up the time the VA takes to render a decision, a representative accredited to file powers of attorney is knowledgeable about the process and can ensure the proper information is provided to the VA to render a beneficial decision.
Power of attorney may be revoked by the person for whom the document provides representation. This may be done by the veteran after they receive their benefits and no longer need representation. Powers of attorney do not survive death, so if the veteran should pass away during the process a new Power of Attorney would have to be signed by the veteran’s dependent substituting as claimant to continue the veteran’s claim.
Legal Assistance for Disabled Veterans
Veterans Law Group has provided legal help for veterans for more than twenty years. Anyone frustrated or confused by the benefits application process should consider reaching out for a free consultation. An attorney for veterans can offer unique insight into the challenges that lie ahead and can provide the experience and expertise necessary to ensure clients receive the maximum amount of benefits possible. Get started today by filling out this consultation request.