What is a Power of Attorney (or POA)?
One of the crucial Estate Planning documents, a Power of Attorney helps make sure you have a reliable team ready to step in if you are ever unable to care for yourself. With a Power of Attorney, you pick your team, not the court. You cannot be everywhere at once. Having another person stand in or sign for you might be necessary or merely convenient.
Why You Need to Name a POA Sooner Than Later
To create a Power of Attorney you have to be an adult of sound mind, able to understand the powers which you are granting to your Agent. Sadly, people often put off signing a Power of Attorney until either age or infirmity reduces their capacity, so they are no longer legally able to grant a Power of Attorney. In these cases, the family is required to file a Guardianship Petition, which is much more complicated and costly. Further, your wishes are no longer respected, the court picks the person who acts on your behalf.
What is an Attorney in Fact?
The person given powers to act on your behalf is called either the “Agent” or the “Attorney in Fact.”
How Do You Get a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is part of every good Estate Plan. You typically sign a Power of Attorney at the same time you sign a Will and a Medical Power of Attorney. These documents are the pillars of a good Estate Plan.
Types of Powers of Attorney
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney exists when you grant your Agent broad, non-specific power to conduct any business or transaction on your behalf.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)
A Power of Attorney is durable if its forces continue even if you become incapacitated.
What are the advantages of a Durable General Power of Attorney?
You, rather than a judge, select the person who has control over your assets and your care.
You avoid the time and expense of a Guardianship proceeding.
You and your family have the peace of mind knowing that if you become incapacitated, you have implemented a plan.
Do I need a Power of Attorney?
If you are concerned about who could handle your affairs should you ever become incapacitated, then you need a Durable General Power of Attorney. A Durable General Power of Attorney grants very broad powers to your Agent, usually so large that the Agent can replace you.
What are the Advantages of a Power of Attorney Over a Guardian?
If you become incapacitated because of an accident, illness or age, you could be taken advantage of by unscrupulous persons or family members. If you select an Agent in Fact in your Power of Attorney while competent, your trusted person is tasked with protecting you.
If you fail to execute a Power of Attorney, then the state takes over. To protect incapacitated people, the State created a system where the Court appoints Guardians. Unfortunately, the judges do not know you or your family. They do not know whom you trust and to whom you would like to have these extensive power. The judge will select someone to care for you, but it may not be someone that you would have picked. Further, the process of petitioning the Court and having the hearing can be very expensive, using up funds that should otherwise go towards your care.
Experienced, With Reasonable Prices, We Make Estate Planning and Power of Attorneys Easier.
If you have any questions about Power of Attorneys or any other Estate Planning topics, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. At Vancouver Wills and Trusts we focus on estate law. With years of experience we will explain complex estate planning techniques clearly and concisely. We make it easy for you to understand estate planning so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.