What is a Power of Attorney
What Is a Power of Attorney (POA)? All POA’s must be witnessed by a Notary Public.
Power of attorney is essential in the event that you're incapacitated or not physically present to make decisions on your own behalf.
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 can be uncomfortable to think about needing it, a POA is an important part of your estate plan.
A POA is typically used in the event that you become unable to 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 take effect immediately after they're signed, and others only kick in after you're incapacitated.
What Does a Power of Attorney Do?
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 which affairs you are granting power over. All POA’s must be witnessed by a Notary Public.
The decision-making power of an attorney-in-fact takes effect at different times depending on which POA you choose. No matter which type, any POA becomes null and void when the person it represents passes away. A last will and testament or a living trust is used to list instructions for the management of assets and affairs after death.
What Is the Agent of a Power of Attorney Responsible For?
The agent or attorney-in-fact is a fiduciary. That means they are responsible for managing some or all of another person's affairs. The fiduciary must act responsibly and practically and in a way that is fair to the person whose affairs they are managing. Anyone who violates these duties can face criminal charges or can be held liable in a civil lawsuit.
What Are the Limits of a Power of Attorney?
No power of attorney document is legally binding before it's signed and executed according to the laws of your state. This means that no agent can make decisions on your behalf before the POA document goes into effect. You must also be of sound mind when you appoint an agent.
Any terms that you feel need clarification can be outlined specifically in your POA document. This is why having the help of an attorney can simplify the process of nominating an agent to have power of attorney.
How Do I Make My Choice of a Power of Attorney Legally Binding?
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 having it notarized. Consider giving a copy to your agent or letting your agent know where they can find a copy if needed.
Attorney-In-Fact vs. Power of Attorney: What's the Difference? Both witnessed by a Notary Public.
An attorney-in-fact is a person you've assigned to manage your affairs through the power of attorney document. This person is an agent acting on your behalf, also called a fiduciary.
An attorney-in-fact does not need to be someone who can practice law. That said, getting the help of a lawyer to help you draft the POA and navigate estate planning can make the process less stressful for you and your loved ones. While it's not necessary to involve a lawyer, you must choose an agent who is: At least 18 years old and of sound mind.
When designating your attorney-in-fact, it's important to find someone whom you know and trust. This person will act on your behalf to make crucial decisions about your well-being, your finances, your assets, or other affairs. Your attorney-in-fact can be anyone you choose, so picking someone who will act in your best interest can bring you added peace of mind. Several types of POA exist, and each serves a different purpose. It might be important to you that the same person is responsible for all of your affairs, or you might want the person handling your finances to be different from the person handling your health care decisions. The differences also extend to when you want the POA to take effect. Here are some of the options. All POA’s must be witnessed by a Notary Public.
i. Durable/Non-Durable POA
ii. General POA
iii. Limited POA