When most people think of the term ‘family law,’ they probably associate it with matters such as divorce, alimony or child support. However, there are a number of other issues that family lawyers also deal with including power of attorney, inheritance and name changes.
What is power of attorney?
Power of attorney gives one person, be it a nominated person, next-of-kin, or a legal practitioner, the ability to act on behalf of another person. The power granted can range from broad legal authority to limited authority over specific matters. For example, you might apply for power of attorney over all your ill parent’s legal and financial issues, or you may be granted limited power of attorney over transactions in one particular bank account. It is often applied for in situations where a person is ill or otherwise incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves.
Family law attorneys also advise and assist in matters relating to inheritance and estate management. In fact, inheritances can often form an essential part of a family law firm’s business. Attorneys step in to ensure that the proceeds of a will are disbursed correctly, acting as an objective party in a matter that can sometimes be fraught with internal family conflict. A lawyer can also help if you are the beneficiary in a will or a trust, if you are the heir to an individual who died without leaving a will, or if you are named the executor of a will or trustee of a living trust.
Legal name change
Changing your name is a legal matter that falls under the purview of family law. The state of California generally applies the ‘usage method,’ which enables people to change their names simply by using their new, chosen name in all areas of their lives. However, most government agencies require legal proof of a name change, which makes the acquisition of a court order a vital step. A court order is granted after the successful filing of a petition for a change of name. Some people choose to change their names for professional or personal reasons. Others may change their name after a marriage or divorce, or to conform to a new gender identity.