A power of attorney (POA) is a document you can sign giving someone else the authority to make legal, medical or financial decisions for you.
The Power of Attorney can say:
This Power of Attorney becomes effective upon my incapacity OR,
This Power of Attorney DOES NOT become effective upon my incapacity.
Incapacity means if you are unable to make decisions on your own due to mental or physical incapacity because of an accident or other circumstance.
How to Execute a Power of Attorney
You execute a power of attorney by signing it yourself or someone in your presence you have authorized to sign it for you. It is best to sign it in front of a notary in case your signature gets challenged later.
Once you sign your Power of Attorney, the agent can now make a wide variety of decisions on your behalf. This includes selling your assets, taking out loans, etc. If your agent acts improperly, you may end up in big trouble. Therefore, the MOST important thing to consider if you are thinking about signing a Power of Attorney is who you are going to appoint. It is best to pick someone you trust to responsibly manage your affairs.
One thing to look at is whether or not the donor, or the person signing over power of attorney, is susceptible to undue influence and may be at risk of being coerced into signing over Power of Attorney.
There are several factors to keep an eye out for that will point to undue influence: the age of the donor, their mental and/or physical strength, and the dependence on others, especially the individual they want to appoint as agent.
Mental capacity is especially important because the donor needs to be mentally competent in order to sign over Power of Attorney.
Termination of Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney Terminates When
An interested party can challenge the Power of Attorney in court. If the court finds that there is undue influence or that the agent acted improperly, the court will take away the Power of Attorney and appoint a guardian.
If you have a POA already in place and you execute a second POA, the first is still in effect unless you include in your second one that the first POA is now invalid.
It is the best practice to make your Power of Attorney as specific as possible. There are limitations you can put in your Power of Attorney if you wish. Otherwise, in the event you are incapacitated (If it is not a Durable Power of Attorney), your agent could make decisions on your behalf that you did not actually want to authorize them to do.
A Power of Attorney is something that should not be taken lightly. Whoever you appoint has a tremendous amount of power and you should make sure that who you appoint is trustworthy.
If you have any questions, you should contact an attorney to review your Power of Attorney paperwork. You can call the Legal Aid Hotline at 877-432-9955 for free legal advice.
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!