Protect yourself! Get a Power of Attorney Today!
If you can’t act, who will act for you?
A Power of Attorney, also referred to as a POA, is an essential estate planning tool. A Power of Attorney allows you to name an “agent” or an “attorney in fact” to act on your behalf. Having a properly drafted Power of Attorney will be able to protect you and your family from a time of crisis if you become unable to handle your affairs yourself. This could mean you have become mentally disabled or it could be at a time that you are confined to a hospital bed after an accident or illness.
By naming an agent to be able to handle your affairs, you can make sure that when you can’t, someone you trust will be in charge of paying your bills, cashing your checks, managing your property and investments, and many other tasks that may need to be accomplished to take care of you.
If you don’t plan ahead and draft and execute a power of attorney while you are still mentally capable of doing so, your family will have to petition the Probate Court to appoint a guardian and/or conservator of your estate. Leaving this decision to the Courts means the Court might appoint someone that you would not be comfortable with managing you and your affairs. By planning ahead, you are able to ensure that the person YOU PICK is the one who will be in charge for you.
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Types of Powers of Attorney
There are many different types of Powers of Attorney, each one used for a specific purpose. You should seek the advice of an experienced attorney to make sure that you choose the type of Power of Attorney that fits your unique situation. (One size fit all forms may cause even more problems than not planning ahead at all would).
General Durable Power of Attorney
This type of Power of Attorney allows an agent that you choose to do almost anything you could do if you were able. This is the broadest type of power of attorney in terms of what your agent will be able to accomplish. This means it is very important to make sure that you review your General Durable Power of Attorney with a qualified lawyer who will walk you through the process to make sure you don’t give too much power to someone that isn’t trustworthy, or, as is the case most of the time, too little power meaning your agent can’t accomplish what needs to be accomplished without going to court first.
Special or Limited Power of Attorney
In some cases there is a specific task that you need to appoint an agent to do. Using a Special or Limited Power of Attorney, you would be able to appoint an agent to accomplish the specific task that you need them to do, but NOT grant them total general powers over all of your finances. In some cases, you may be okay using a general power of attorney, but only need it to be for a certain period of time. Such as while you are away on vacation or know how long you will be in the hospital. You can create a Power of Attorney that would be limited by the time determined by you to make sure you know when the agent’s powers will expire.
Springing Power of Attorney
A “springing” power of attorney will allow you to appoint an agent today, but not allow them to have any powers until a certain event occurs. In most cases, the springing power of attorney will be triggered upon you becoming disabled. While this sounds like a good solution, there are many issues involved with a springing power of attorney that sometimes make it harder to work with. But, if your situation calls for it, a springing power of attorney may be the right thing for you.