Power of Attorney Lawyers in Conway, Arkansas Helping Clients Prepare for the Future
In the prime of our lives, it’s hard to imagine that someday, we may not be able to manage our finances, make important decisions, or protect our assets ourselves due to incapacity or death. Nobody expects to be ill or injured in such a way that they can’t make their wishes known, but it can and does happen, and it’s best to be prepared. Naming a trusted friend or family member to carry out your financial obligations and make important decisions for you if you can’t do so yourself is a good way to ensure that things go smoothly. The legal document that appoints a person you choose to handle your affairs if you are incapacitated or deceased is called a power of attorney (POA). To better understand the reasons for creating a power of attorney document and how to do so, call Dudeck Law Firm today at 501-327-3527 to speak with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.
Are There Different Kinds of Power of Attorney Documents?
In general, a POA grants authority to another person (your agent or attorney-in-fact) to conduct your financial affairs and make important decisions if you are unable to do so yourself, but you are still alive. There are a few specific kinds of power of attorney documents that do different things.
A limited power of attorney grants authority to the agent only for specific actions or for a limited time period, or both. For example, you may grant a limited power of attorney to a financial advisor to execute certain transactions for you, or you may need to sign a limited POA to allow someone to sign a specific legal document for you on one specific day when you are unable to do so yourself due to travel or scheduling conflicts.
A general power of attorney assigns all of your financial powers and rights to someone else for an unspecified length of time. This may be useful if you do not have the time, skill, or desire to handle financial matters, for example. A general POA can be used for things like making investments, filing lawsuits, collecting debts, or applying for government benefits, among other things. A general POA ends upon your death or incapacity.
A durable power of attorney grants rights that begin when the document is signed and extend beyond the incapacity of the assignor, unlike a general POA which ends with death or incapacity of the assignor. Its purpose is to name someone to act for you while you are unable to act for yourself.
A springing power of attorney, on the other hand, grants rights to the person you have named specifically when you become incapacitated, but not before. This type of POA is designed to allow your agent to conduct necessary business and make decisions on your behalf only when you are physically or mentally unable to do so yourself due to injury or illness.
A health care power of attorney grants the right to make medical decisions on your behalf to the agent you name. They are not allowed to conduct business or make financial decisions for you—only to make health care decisions. This is often the same person you chose for your general or durable POA, but not always. For example, perhaps you chose a family member who lives far from you as the agent for your durable POA. This person may be a fine choice for that role, as they can probably conduct a lot of the necessary business they are expected to handle from a distance, using the internet, postal mail, or telephone. They may not be the best choice to be the agent of your health care POA, however, as making medical decisions may require more direct observation and communication. Choosing someone who lives near you may be a better option for this important responsibility.
Does My Power of Attorney Continue After I Die?
Power of attorney agreements end with the death of the assignor. After death, the only person authorized to conduct business or sign documents for the deceased person is the executor of the estate, who is most likely named in the deceased person’s will. This is often the same person to whom they gave power of attorney while alive, sometimes creating the false impression that the POA still applies after death. It does not. After death, the will takes over, and the executor is the only one authorized to speak or act on behalf of the deceased person.
How Do I Choose the Agent to Name in My Power of Attorney?
There are many factors to consider when choosing a person to represent you in the event of your incapacity. Obviously, you must choose someone whom you trust and whom you expect will follow your wishes as much as possible or make good decisions if your wishes are not known. Another important consideration is the person’s age. It would not make much sense to choose a person who is significantly older than you are. While it can certainly happen that an accident or illness can incapacitate a younger person, in the vast majority of cases, this does not happen until old age. If you choose an agent who is older than you are, there is a chance that they will not outlive you or that they will not be mentally or physically capable of conducting your affairs once you reach the point of needing them to. Geography can also be a factor. Choosing someone who was raised in another country and is unfamiliar with American laws or does not speak English would not be advisable, for example. Even choosing an agent from out of state could be questionable, as it might be quite inconvenient or even impossible for them to have to travel to conduct your affairs. You are free to choose any adult you want as your agent, but choosing carefully can save a lot of headaches and ensure that your wishes are followed.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer to Create a Power of Attorney?
Like all estate planning documents, a power of attorney is a complex legal document. A skilled and experienced elder law attorney from Conway can ensure that a power of attorney is done correctly, following all rules and regulations and that it will hold up in court in the unlikely event that it is challenged. At Dudeck Law Firm, we work hard to bring peace of mind to you and your family members, knowing that you have planned for the future, whatever it may bring. Call us today at 501-327-3527.