What is the Importance of Power of Attorney?
According to the American Bar Association, an important part of lifetime planning is the power of attorney. A power of attorney is accepted in all states, but the rules and requirements differ from state to state. A power of attorney gives one or more persons the power to act on your behalf as your agent. The power may be limited to a particular activity, such as closing the sale of your home, or be general in its application. The power may give temporary or permanent authority to act on your behalf. The power may take effect immediately, or only upon the occurrence of a future event, usually a determination that you are unable to act for yourself due to mental or physical disability. The latter is called a “springing” power of attorney. A power of attorney may be revoked, but most states require written notice of revocation to the person named to act for you.
The person named in a power of attorney to act on your behalf is commonly referred to as your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” With a valid power of attorney, your agent can take any action permitted in the document. Often your agent must present the actual document to invoke the power. For example, if another person is acting on your behalf to sell an automobile, the motor vehicles department generally will require that the power of attorney be presented before your agent’s authority to sign the title will be honored. Similarly, an agent who signs documents to buy or sell real property on your behalf must present the power of attorney to the title company. Similarly, the agent has to present the power of attorney to a broker or banker to effect the sale of securities or opening and closing bank accounts. However, your agent generally should not need to present the power of attorney when signing checks for you.
What are the types of powers of attorney?
- General power of attorney: A general power of attorney grants the agent the authority to act in a broad range of matters.
- Limited power of attorney: A limited or special power of attorney gives the agent the authority to handle a specific matter or grants them authority for a specified period of time.
- Durable power of attorney: A durable power of attorney is one that either takes effect upon or lasts after the principal’s incapacitation. This is different from a general power of attorney, which would terminate at this point.
- Springing power of attorney: A springing power of attorney gives the agent authority only if and when the principal becomes disabled or incapacitated.
- Medical power of attorney: A medical power of attorney gives the agent the authority to make medical treatment decisions for you if you become mentally or physically unable to make your own decisions.
Why Should I Assign a Power of Attorney?
Assigning a Power of Attorney (POA) is a safe and practical way to protect and manage your estate, your late-life care, and other resources. In the event that you become ill or are unable to take on the task of comprehensively handling your estate affairs, making financial decisions, or making choices for your long-term care, your POA will take on the responsibility of making decisions on your behalf.
Assigning your POA can give you peace of mind because you are able to appoint an agent that you trust to fully manage your care, capital, and other assets. You have the ability to appoint a single attorney or multiple attorneys. You can direct them to work together to make decisions or provide them with specific instructions on what choices you would like to be left to them.
The future is unpredictable, ensure the safety of your family and assets by taking precautionary measures now instead of later. Appointing a Power of Attorney ensures that if something happens to you, suddenly or later in life, you have assigned a trusted person to settle your affairs.
If you have any questions or are ready to take the next step in planning for your future, contact our law office today.
Prepare For Your Future with Attorney Brown
With nearly two decades of experience, Principal Attorney Christy K. Brown is a No-Nonsense, Forward-Thinking, and Result-Oriented probate, estate planning, and business lawyer, and she’s committed to handling each of her clients’ concerns equally, creatively, relentlessly, and in a personal way from the first meeting. Schedule your free 15-minute phone consultation today to learn more about how we can help you through the probate process.