We often meet with clients who have given someone power of attorney or hold power of attorney for someone. Over the years we’ve heard many myths about what a power of attorney is and what it allows you to accomplish. While you might have a general understanding of what a power of attorney is, we think it’s just as important to understand what it’s not.
Top 5 Myths regarding your Power of Attorney (POA):
Myth #1: There is One Universal Power of Attorney Form. Every POA form can be different. POA’s can achieve many goals related to finances, medical, estate planning, and more. All POA’s enumerate different powers and duration of powers.
Myth #2: Internet Forms Will Meet Your Needs. Because every person’s circumstances and goals are different, it can be extremely challenging to find an internet POA form that is legally sufficient. Most often internet forms are not up to date with your state’s laws, too ambiguous, and don’t specifically address your needs and circumstances. It’s important to review all these issues with an attorney experienced in drafting POA’s. There is greater risk a POA will be challenged, if it’s not drafted to meet your specific needs.
Myth #3: The Person I Choose has Immediate Control of My Life. This is only true if you want your POA holder to have immediate control. Your POA holder can be “immediate,” and give the holder you choose immediate control. Or it can be “springing” and become active upon certain contingencies provided in the POA. This distinction provides flexibility based on several factors such as age and health condition.
Myth #4: A Power of Attorney Survives Death. All POA’s are invalid upon death. If you have a “durable” POA it gives your POA holder the right to continue acting on your behalf if you should become incapacitated or are unable to make decisions for yourself. This can be a significant distinction and can present problems if your POA is not drafted and tailored to your specific needs.
Myth #5: You Should Always Choose a Family Member as your POA. This depends on what you want your POA to achieve. Sometimes it may be beneficial to choose a dispassionate third party who can help ensure your affairs are taken care of while your family members can deal with your medical or other issues. We recommend talking with an attorney about your POA goals, and the significant responsibility that comes with having a POA.
We’d love to help you create a Power of Attorney as part of an estate plan that immediately protects and preserves your family relationships and legacy while avoiding court involvement. Complete our online and secure estate planning worksheet now, and we’ll contact you to schedule a free consultation at our offices.