Power of Attorney FAQ

If you should be come unable to make decisions for yourself, then a power of attorney allows you to appoint a trusted individual to act in your place. If you have questions about your power of attorney, then please read the following. You can also find an estate planning attorney in your area for more information about your specific situation!

Why should I create a power of attorney?

An effective power of attorney can help both you and your family in the event that you become incapacitated. Not only can it ensure that your wishes are carried out, but it can reduce conflict among family members who are wondering what to do. A power of attorney can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones, as decisions are already made when issues arise. It can also help to reduce court-fees, as a court-action to appoint a conservator can be an expensive and lengthy process.

Who determines that I am "incapacitated"?

Your physician will decide when you are mentally or physical incapable of making decisions for yourself. The physician must be reasonably certain that the patient is incapacitated, proving this by stating the cause and extent of the incapability, as well as the probable duration. It is best if the physician gets a second opinion by another medical provisional.

What is a "general power of attorney"?

A general power of attorney gives an agent comprehensive authority to act on behalf of an individual. Thich is different from a "limited power of attorney", which gives the agent authority control over a specific act.

What are the risks of appointing an agent?

If you select a person who is trustworthy and make sure that he or she is accountable to others, then there should be no problems. Since your agent has full authority, however, that individual may not always act in your best interest. They may defraud you or your beneficiaries by embezzlement, and gifting assets to themselves. If the agent acts inappropriately, then another person may ask the court to invalidate the agent's powers.

Can I choose more than one person to be my agent?

The government does permit you to appoint more than one agent; however, they must be unified in all decisions. If they do not agree, then they must go to court to settle the dispute, which can be time-consuming and costly. An alternative to co-agents may be to appoint one as substitute agent, in case the first is not available or does not act appropriately.

Can the executor of my will handle my affairs instead?

The executor of your will can only manage your affairs after you die. That individual has no authority to act on your behalf while you are still living. Likewise, your agent cannot act on your behalf after you pass away.

Can I revoke my power of attorney?

You can revoke your power of attorney as long as you are mentally able. Family members or your proxy may dispute your revocation if they believe that you were incapacitated or were under duress at the time.

How long does power of attorney last?

It is up to you how long the power of attorney lasts. You may specify that it ends at a certain date or even after your agent completes a specific task. A durable power of attorney may last until you pass away or revoke it.

What should I do with my power of attorney document after I finish it?

When you have completed your power of attorney document, discuss it thoroughly with your agent. Make sure that he or she understands your wishes and your expectations. You should also inform your family members, financial institutions, physicians, and anyone else who may be affected by the document.

Can my agent change my will?

Your agent cannot legally change your will or its beneficiaries without your express approval. If you want to give your agent the power to change your will, then you can specify your wishes in your power of attorney.

Are there any alternatives to power of attorney?

If you do not want to choose a power of attorney, then the court may choose a guardian or conservator to make decisions for you. The courts will closely monitor all of that person's actions on your behalf. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the guardian or conservator will act according to your wishes and the details will be made public. When you appoint a power of attorney, the agent has to act according to your wishes, and it will be a private proceeding.

Financial Power of Attorney

Can I limit my agent's power over my finances?

You can authorize your agent to do as much or as little as you desire. You may specify that they have full power over your finances, or list out the duties for which you want them to be responsible.

What is a regular accounting?

When your agent takes over your finances, that person will be required to write down all transactions that they complete. This includes investing assets, buying property, selling property, paying taxes, or any other action that your agent has taken on your behalf. If a beneficiary or the court asks for the accounting, then the agent will be required to provide them with a copy. Those who do not properly account for all the money may have their power taken away.

Health Care Power of Attorney

What happens if I do not appoint a health care proxy?

If you do not choose a health care proxy, then you may complete a health care declaration, which is a written statement specifying your wishes. If the document is legal, the court will require medical staff to follow the provisions of your written statement.

Can I appoint my physician as my health care proxy?

It is strongly recommended that you do not name your health care provider as your proxy. Most states actually forbid this action. It is better to choose a trusted friend or family member to act on your behalf, and then inform your physician of your wishes.