POWERS OF ATTORNEY – A REVIEW
At Strategic Wealth Planning, we deal with powers of attorney on a daily basis. In looking for topics that are relevant to our clients, we thought it would be a good idea to review some basic information on powers of attorney and at the same time, encourage you to review your current powers of attorney to make sure they are up-to-date.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document delegating authority from one person to another. In a Power of Attorney, one person, the maker (“Principal”), grants to another person (the “Agent” or “Attorney in Fact”) the right to act on the Principal’s behalf. What authority the Principal grants to the Agent depends on the specific language in the Power of Attorney. A Principal may grant very broad business powers in a document (a “General Business Power of Attorney”) or may limit powers to certain specific acts (a “Limited Business Power of Attorney”). Health care powers should be set forth in a separate Healthcare Power of Attorney.
Why do I need Powers of Attorney?
Powers of Attorney represent the first basic step in estate planning. For example, in the event you are unavailable to sign a document due to absence or sudden incapacity, your attorney-in-fact will be able to sign for you.
Where may a person obtain Powers of Attorney?
Powers of Attorney are important and powerful legal documents. We recommend that you use an attorney to draw up your business and healthcare powers of attorney to include your specific wishes and circumstances.
What is the difference between a General Business Power of Attorney and a Healthcare POA?
A General Business Power of Attorney would allow your agent to discuss your medical bills with your insurance company, doctor or hospital, but would not allow your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf with a doctor or hospital. A healthcare power of attorney only takes effect if a Principal is incapable of making his or her own medical decisions. In that case, the attorney-in-fact would make the medical decision for the Principal.
Must a person be competent to sign Business and Healthcare Powers of Attorney?
Yes. The principal must understand what he or she is signing at the time she signs the POA. The principal must understand the effect of a Power of Attorney, to whom he or she is giving the Power of Attorney, and what property is covered by the Power of Attorney. All Powers of Attorney must be signed before a notary public to be effective.
How do I choose who will serve as my Attorney-in-Fact?
You should choose your Attorney-in-Fact carefully, selecting a person who is capable, conscientious and trustworthy. Before you appoint someone as an agent, be sure to ask if the person agrees to serve on your behalf. You may elect to name different agents in your business and healthcare POAs
THE NEXT STEP. Comprehensive estate planning, planning for a secure financial future, requires the skills of an experienced financial planner. Call our office today, 214.727.6000 with any questions you may have about the information or to set up a confidential meeting.
Please be advised that the content in this communication is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, which can only be provided by your attorney.