Written By: Brandy Miller | April 13, 2017 | No Comments

Should a General Power of Attorney (POA) Be Part of My Estate Plan?

If someone is incapacitated due to old age or injuries sustained in an accident, he or she may not be able to create an estate plan. In order to ensure that your last wishes will be carried out exactly as you want, you should seriously consider having someone serve as your power of attorney, or POA.

What Is a POA?

A POA is simply a document that gives a person the authority to act for another. The person designated with POA has the right, for example, to make contracts or sign legal papers. He or she will also have the authority to manage your financial affairs should you ever become incapacitated.

However, the person you designate with POA will not be able to change your will, make a new will or designate another POA for you. In order to be valid, the POA document must be signed when you are mentally competent. Otherwise, someone could challenge not only your POA, but also your entire estate plan.

Who Makes a Good Candidate for a POA?

The person you designate for POA authority does not have to be a practicing lawyer, but he or she needs to have some important characteristics. Your POA should have experience managing money and the ability to protect you as well as your estate. He or she should be willing to commit to managing your assets for several years and have the time to handle matters such as paying your bills and dealing with accountants and attorneys.

Your POA also needs to be able to communicate with those who are taking care of you while you are incapacitated.

Talk to a Lawyer for POA Help

If you are considering granting POA authority to someone, you should consider speaking with a lawyer before making your final decision. A lawyer can help you determine, for instance, whether you would be better off granting “springing” POA (which goes into effect only under conditions that you specify) or “immediate” POA (it becomes effective immediately upon you signing the document, and your POA will not need to prove you are incapacitated in order to act on your behalf).

An additional piece to this document is a required warning page that you must read and sign.  There is a page for the person giving the power of attorney and an acknowledgment page for the person receiving the power of attorney.  This decision is not one to take lightly.

There is even the possibility that you could give POA to more than one person. An estate planning lawyer can let you know if that would be in your best interests.

The professionals with Miller Law Group, PLLC have a great deal of experience helping people with their POA questions. If you would like to learn more, please contact us online or give us a call at 610-670-9000.