How To File For Power Of Attorney – A power of attorney is essential in case you are incapacitated or not physically present to make decisions on your behalf. Learn more in our in-depth guide.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legally binding document that allows you to appoint someone to manage your property, medical or financial affairs. Although it may be uncomfortable to think about needing it, a POA is an important part of your estate plan.
How To File For Power Of Attorney
A POA is usually used if you cannot manage your own affairs. Each type gives your attorney-in-fact—the person who will make decisions for you—a different level of control. Some POAs go into effect immediately after they are signed, and others only go into effect after you become incapacitated.
What Is A Power Of Attorney (poa)?
In this article, we will examine the role of an attorney-in-fact and what authority the POA gives. We’ll also cover the different types of POAs and highlight four tips for creating them.
The POA gives the attorney-in-fact (also known as the agent) the power to make decisions about your affairs. The type of POA you create dictates what matters you are giving power over.
A power of attorney actually goes into effect at different times depending on which POA you choose. No matter which type, any POA becomes void when the person it represents dies. A last will or living trust lists instructions for managing assets and affairs after death.
The agent or attorney is actually a fiduciary. This means they are responsible for managing some or all of another person’s affairs. The trustee must act responsibly and practically, and in a way that is fair to the person whose affairs he manages. Anyone who violates these duties may face criminal charges or be held liable in a civil lawsuit.
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No power of attorney is legally binding before it is signed and executed under the laws of your state. No agent can make decisions on your behalf before the POA document goes into effect. You should also use common sense when appointing an agent. You can see more about creating a power of attorney in the infographic below.
Any terms you feel need clarification can be described in your POA document. This is why having the help of a lawyer can simplify the process of appointing an agent to have power of attorney.
To make your POA legally binding, sign and execute your document according to the laws of your state. This usually involves signing in front of witnesses or notarizing it. Consider giving your agent a copy or letting them know where they can find a copy if needed.
An attorney is actually someone you have appointed to manage your affairs through a power of attorney. This person is an agent acting on your behalf, also called a fiduciary.
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A lawyer does not actually need to be someone who can practice law. That said, enlisting the help of an attorney to help you draft the POA and navigate estate planning can make the process less stressful for you and your loved ones. While it is not necessary to involve a lawyer, you should choose an agent who is:
When appointing your attorney of fact, finding someone you know and trust is important. This person will act on your behalf to make crucial decisions about your well-being, finances, assets or other matters. Your attorney can actually be anyone you choose, so choosing someone who will act in your best interest can bring you more peace of mind.
There are several types of POA, and each serves a different purpose. It may be important that the same person is responsible for all of your affairs, or you may want the person who handles your finances to be different from the person who handles your health care decisions. The differences also extend to when you want the POA to take effect. Here are some of the options (and more information on them in the next section):
Each type of POA has its own benefits, so it’s important to understand all of your options before making a decision.
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If you are incapacitated due to an unexpected illness or accident, a durable power of attorney document allows your attorney to effectively continue to act in your best interest. This is simply a POA with a standing provision to keep the authorization current.
You can specify in your POA document whether you want your agent to have authority after the document is signed or after a doctor declares you incapacitated. You can also specify your preference as to which doctor should have that authority to ensure that they are a medical professional whose opinion you trust.
As the title suggests, an incoming POA differs from an immediately effective POA, which takes effect as soon as you sign it.
A major obstacle to a growing POA is the clarity around a declaration of physical or mental unfitness. For example, if you have been diagnosed with the onset of dementia and your ability to make sound decisions is in question, it may be difficult to obtain evidence that you are medically incompetent.
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A general POA is an effective tool if you will be abroad and need someone to handle certain matters, or when you are physically or mentally unable to manage your own affairs. A general POA is often included in an estate plan to make sure someone can handle financial matters.
Also known as a special power of attorney, this POA document restricts the agent to a certain number of conditions. Signing a special power of attorney can specify exactly what powers an agent can exercise. You can use this POA if you are unable to attend to certain matters due to other commitments or health reasons.
Selling property (personal and real), managing real estate, collecting debts and handling business transactions are some common matters specified in a separate POA document.
The type of POA you need is a personal decision you may want to bring up when discussing estate planning with your family. Planning for end-of-life decisions allows you to spend more time focusing on the people and activities you love.
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A medical power of attorney, also called a durable health care power of attorney, gives your agent the authority to make medical decisions for you. Your agent will have this power if you are unconscious, mentally incompetent or otherwise unable to make decisions for yourself.
Although it’s not the same as a living will, many states allow you to include your preference to be kept on life support in a medical POA. Some states will allow you to combine parts of the health care POA and living will into one advanced health care directive.
This POA allows a fiduciary to handle your financial affairs when you are not present. This can be a non-durable POA that covers situations where you cannot be present, such as an extended time spent abroad. It can also be a durable financial POA that covers when you are incapacitated or mentally incompetent and therefore unable to make sound financial decisions for yourself.
As with authorizations that apply to civilians, military authorizations vary in their coverage, and what authority you provide is entirely up to you. Because of the travel often involved in military roles, having a power of attorney for a military spouse can come in handy for many everyday situations, such as accessing your bank account, registering a car, or filing taxes.
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The unpredictability of life on deployment can mean unexpected changes to your plans and your ability to make decisions on your own behalf, whether through unavailability, injury or disability. Having a valid authorization is a good idea for anyone in the military, but it can be critical for those who are deployed.
Once you’ve determined which authorization you’ll need, you’ll need to decide who your agent will be. It is important to remember that any attorney is actually responsible for your best interests and must advocate on your behalf to the best of their ability. A few steps can simplify the process of delegating authorization.
You may appoint multiple attorneys-in-fact to represent your interests, and you must decide whether these agents should act together or separately in making decisions. Multiple agents can be helpful if your medical or financial matters are complex. But having multiple agents can introduce scheduling conflicts into the process and can delay important decisions.
Similarly, just having an agent has limitations. You should designate a backup agent who can step in if the original agent is suddenly unable to perform his duties.
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Trust is essential when choosing an agent for your power of attorney. Whether the agent is a friend, relative, organization or lawyer, you need someone who will look out for your best interests, respect your wishes and not abuse the powers they have been given.
If you, a friend or relative suspect wrongdoing by your agent, report the suspected abuse to a law enforcement agency and consult with an attorney.
It is essential that an agent keeps accurate records of all transactions conducted on your behalf and provides you with periodic updates to keep you informed. If you cannot review these updates, direct your agent to assign an account to a third party that you approve.
You can appoint multiple agents. You must decide whether these agents should act together or separately in making decisions. Multiple agents can
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