A Power of Attorney is a written document in which you give someone else the right to act on your behalf. You can have a General Power of Attorney which gives the person the right to act on your behalf to do anything which you could do if you were personally present and competent. Alternatively, you can have a Specific Power of Attorney which only gives the appointed person the right to do certain things.
A Power of Attorney is different from a Will. It can go into effect immediately, or it can go into effect sometime in the future, as you designate. A Will only provides for the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries upon your death. Power of Attorney permits someone to act on your behalf if you become physically incapacitated, mentally incompetent, or simply if you are away on vacation or business. It permits someone you trust to act for you when you cannot.
A Power of Attorney can appoint someone to be your guardian in the event that you become incompetent. This is called an Enduring Power of Attorney. You cannot wait until you become incompetent to have this executed. A Power of Attorney can only be executed by someone who is mentally competent and understands the full nature and effect of the document. If a Power of Attorney does not exist and you become incompetent, it will require an application to the Courts and a Judge will appoint someone to be your guardian for the purpose of managing your financial affairs.