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Archive for the ‘Power of Attorney’ Category

How do I choose an agent to act on my behalf?

Monday, February 4th, 2008

When you create a power of attorney, you choose an “agent” to act on your behalf. The person you choose to be your agent or attorney-in-fact assumes certain duties and responsibilities. The most important obligation of the agent is to act in your best interest. This means that he or she must always do as you ask. The agent is there to make important decisions and act with the highest degree of good faith on your behalf.

Even though your agent is expected to make decisions with your best interest at heart, and use your money and property only for your benefit, he or she also possesses plenty of freedom to do as he or she pleases. Therefore, it is essential to choose an agent whom you trust when you sign a power of attorney document.

Before selecting an agent or attorney-in-fact, you may want to ask yourself the following key questions:

• Do I trust this person?
• Does this person have my best interest at heart?
• Is this person willing to put in the time and effort it takes to handle my affairs?
• Will he or she follow my wishes if I am ever unable to make decisions for myself?
• Is this person someone who can visit me on a regular basis?
• Is this person responsible?
• Is this person someone who knows enough about finances to make the right decisions?

An agent must keep your money separate from his or her own. He or she must not be personally vested in or stand to profit from transaction. An agent is required to keep separate and accurate records regarding all transactions he or shse engages in for your benefit.

Furthermore, an agent is not allowed to give away or transfer any of your money, personal property or real estate to his or her own name unless the power of attorney contains specific authority to do so. If you want your agent to have that type of authority, you will need to ask a private attorney to draft a power of attorney document for you. Most people with property (such as a house or a land), savings (such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit) and income (such as salary, pension, Social Security benefits) should seek the advice of a private attorney to draft a power of attorney document.
Granting someone power of attorney is a weighty decision. And, as such, should not be taken lightly. Take your time and consider all of the key points mentioned above. The most important thing to remember about choosing an agent is that they are there to act on your behalf. Power of attorney does not mean you are giving away your power. It simply means that you are letting an individual use your power for you. Make sure that you choose someone who is not only responsible, but someone who is also willing to reach out to others for help if they cannot handle your affairs on their own.

Medical power of attorney and what I need to know

Monday, February 4th, 2008

A medical power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to select another individual to make health care decisions for you on your behalf if or when you become unable to make them yourself. The individual you choose is responsible for health care decisions and not financial decisions as with a regular power of attorney. The following information will help you understand the difference between medical power of attorney duties and regular power of attorney duties, as well as provide information for other questions you may have.

• What kind of health care decisions would be made under medical power of attorney? Under a medical power of attorney, the individual you select has the power to make certain decisions regarding your health. However, you do have the right to limit the certain types of decisions he or she can make. These decisions may include the ability to give, withhold or withdraw informed consent to any type of health care involving any and all medical and surgical treatments, psychiatric treatment, nursing home care, hospitalization, home health care treatment, organ donation and life support decisions.

• What is the difference between a medical power of attorney and a living will?

The difference between a medical power of attorney and a living will is that a living will is a document of decisions you made for yourself. It informs doctors and hospital staff that you do not wish to be kept alive on life support if there is chance of recovery. A medical power of attorney gives someone else the authority to make those types of decisions if you unable to make them yourself. The sole purpose of a medical power of attorney is to deal with situations in which you cannot predict. It is impossible to decide in advance what choice you would make in certain medical situations. The medical power of attorney allows you to choose an individual whom you trust to make these kinds of decisions.

• If I have a medical power of attorney, do I need a living will? Yes, you do. The individual you choose to be your medical power of attorney must follow any stipulations stated in your living will.

• When would I need a medical power of attorney? You would need a medical power of attorney only when you become unable to make health care decisions for yourself. For example, if you are become unconscious after being involved in a serious car accident and are in need of transplant of some kind, a medical power of attorney can consent to the operation.

• Does a medical power of attorney allow someone to make decisions for me if I am still able to make my own? No. The person you choose as your medical power of attorney has no authority unless you become unable to make your own health care decisions.

• Can I choose my doctor to be my medical power of attorney? No. Your doctor cannot serve as your medical power of attorney under the law.

What exactly does power of attorney mean?

Monday, February 4th, 2008

You’ve heard the phrase “power of attorney” before. But do you really know what it means? At some point in your life, you may have to create a power of attorney. It is best to stay informed and educated about what this means, and how it can benefit you.

A power of attorney is basically a written text where you allow someone else the ability to make certain choices when you’re not available. Because of the phrasing, you may think that “power of attorney” means to give all of your power away to your lawyer. This is a common misconception. The word attorney does not mean that the person named in the document needs legal experience. The person you select is referred to as an “agent” or as a “attorney-in-fact.”

Implementing a power of attorney doesn’t mean that you can not make your own decisions, it basically means that someone else can act on your behalf. For example, if you are put in the hospital, and you need someone to pay your bills or cash some checks for you, this agreement could come in handy. You are simply sharing your power with someone else. As long as you are coherent and able to make these kinds of choices, the other person must follow through.

Another type of power of attorney exists for those who become incapacitated and aren’t able to make decisions concerning their own financial affairs. This type of power of attorney is called durable power of attorney. “Durable” simply means that your agent can act on your behalf if or when you become unable to do so yourself. The agent is required by law to make the best decisions for you – both financially and physically. By enacting a durable power of attorney, you are allowing the agent to spend your money, deposit checks, cash checks and withdraw money from your bank account. The agent can also sell your property, enter into contracts on your behalf and pursue insurance claims and other legal actions. A lawyer or a notary republic should witness the durable power of attorney document before you enact it. If you do not establish a this type of agreement and become mentally unstable or unfit, a court might do it for you.

The appointed agent should maintain separate and accurate records of every transaction, and make sure these records are kept readily available. The power of attorney is considered null or void upon your death. Your will governs the handling of your estate.

If you become uncomfortable with the way the agent is handling your affairs, you can revoke his or her authority under the power of attorney at any time. Therefore, it is best to choose an agent who you are familiar with. In the end, you aren’t really giving your power away. You are simply having someone use your power for you.

Keeping Things Going on the Home Front: Power of Attorney – Travel

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Planning on an extended vacation or long-term travel abroad? Chances are you will be leaving behind important personal, financial, and business affairs at home. Who’s hands will you put them in? The more property and profits you have at stake, the more necessary a power of attorney will be for you. You need a trusted agent to manage your affairs while you are gone; someone who will always have your best interest in mind, so that you can have peace of mind while you travel.

By simply obtaining a power of attorney document, you can then fill it out – hopefully with the guidance of a lawyer – and then get it notarized. Once you do this, your chosen representative will be given the power to handle your life at home while you’re away. But there is both general and special power of attorney: which is more appropriate when you’re traveling?

Well, before you determine what type of power of attorney is best, it’s advisable you get a good grasp of exactly what your agent will need to do and for how long. Be clear about this! Otherwise you risk turning over too much power and lending it to misuse or abuse.

It’s pretty common for a person to give their agent a general power of attorney when they travel. While this is a broad, almost omniscient power, it’s the most convenient for the traveler. Here are some of the powers that are usually granted:

· Handling financial decisions: bank deposits, misc. transactions

· Property and real estate: buying and selling

· Making purchases

· Dealing with insurance claims

· Investing in the stock market

· Filing taxes

· Operating business endeavors

If you plan on going away for months to years on end, a general power of attorney might be ideal. But note: it leaves a lot of room for mishap and if special power of attorney is sufficient, you should always chose that instead, as it is more limited. With a special power of attorney, you may simply grant your agent the ability to sell your house or collect debts for you while you are unavailable.

If you have any questions or concerns about the power of attorney, there are plenty of lawyers and legal services eager to advise you, but for a fee. But for such an important decisions, it’s almost always worth it.

Essentially, a power of attorney comes in handy while you travel, but you must be careful as to how much power you give away. The more interests you have at home, the more important this decision making process will be. Your agent must be a trusted and capable person who you have absolute faith in. After all, who can enjoy their time out of the state or country if they’re constantly worried about the finances or property?

Remember your options for health care and durable power of attorney, as well, as these address financial and health concerns that may rise unexpectedly. Specifically, if you become disabled or incapacitated, you can have a representative take your place in all your affairs with durable power of attorney.

The Mixed-Up Files of Power of Attorney

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Documents for power of attorney are some of the most carefully eyeballed and processed in America; that’s because they are so very important. Unfortunately, filing power of attorney documents can be a complicated and delicate ordeal. Here is an introduction on how to grant an agent of your choice power of attorney.

There are more than a few types of power of attorney and each require different forms. There are three common power of attorney forms that folks tend to fill out: durable, medical, and limited power of attorney.

In order to file a power of attorney document, you will have to investigate your local legislature’s requirements. In the meantime, here’s a basic idea of what is usually expected of those who are ready to establish a power of attorney.

Now, before we continue, you’re going to need an attorney if you want to give a trusted agent power of attorney! You’ll need advice on what type of power of attorney is best for your situation and guidance in filling out the necessary documents. Your chosen agent will need some understanding about it as well and a lawyer who’s an expert on the issue is invaluable in this respect.

Here’s what a power of attorney form should include:

· Name and address of you and your agent

· A statement clearly defining what specific power your agent is granted

· Effective date/circumstance

· Dated signature

The principal, or the person granting the power of attorney, must sign this document – of course – but he or she must be competent at the time, or else the power of attorney can be rendered moot later on. In cases where competence is debatable, a physician may make an assessment.

You can also fill out documents to appoint a successor agent, someone who will take on the power of attorney in case your first choice falls through, for whatever reason.

Notarization is also key – otherwise, the power of attorney can be easily disputed. And that destroys the purpose of power of attorney!

Depending on the type of power of attorney you’re interested in, it will be either a great hassle or it will go swiftly. General power of attorney, as to be expected, is much broader and in effect, more consequential, so these documents tend to be dealt with differently than those for special power of attorney. There are many different forms out there for many different purposes. This is why you will need legal advice as you file power of attorney documents!

Fortunately, by simply prowling the Internet, you can find almost all of necessary forms. The best part is they are free. These at least can help you plan for the future and determine what type of power of attorney you need and what agent sill best use it.

Before you make any forms official, have a lawyer with knowledge of your jurisdiction review them. While filling out a form is important, it won’t mean that your best interests are guaranteed. That is up to your agent, so make sure your agent is someone who is incredibly capable and is also someone who you trust to fulfill your wishes.

Types of Power of Attorney

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Whenever you hand over your power, you should be especially concerned about who you’re handing your power over to and how much power you’re handing over! A power of attorney may be just as necessary as it is risky, so in order to take advantage of this sometimes invaluable commodity, let’s take a look at the types of power of attorney.

First off: what is power of attorney? There might be a time when you are literally separated from your property and/or you are simply unavailable to take care of your important affairs. This is when you will need a power of attorney. The person you grant power of attorney is your agent and he or she must be somebody you completely trust to handle your property and affairs honestly, wisely, efficiently, and to your best interest.

There are two basic types of power of attorney.

General power of attorney

General power of attorney is practically all-encompassing and it is extremely hard to revoke. It’s rarely recommendable that you give your agent, no matter how trusted, a general power of attorney. Because once you do, your agent will be obligated to manage just about anything that you supposedly can’t do at the time the power is granted, but otherwise would do – like pay bills or borrow money, etc. A general power of attorney comes in handy in the most desperate situation where there truly is a “power vacuum.” Not only will you want to have complete faith in your agent’s intentions when granting general power, but you also must trust in his or her decision making abilities.

Special power of attorney

Special power of attorney is what is more commonly given to an agent, especially in the business arena. With special power of attorney, the agent has limited power to handle a specific task, like selling a car for instance. Special power of attorney happens to be easier to revoke than general power of attorney. You might be interested in granting a special power of attorney to an agent for health and/or financial purposes.

There are still some other power of attorney types, that while less common and more technical, may deserve your attention. They include: durable and springing power of attorney. Both of these powers of attorney can be added onto general or special power of attorney and they basically retain your agent’s power even if you become disabled or incapacitated.

Choosing your agent might be one of the most important processes you go through in your lifetime. The consequences will be tremendous and that’s why it’s so important to understand the different types of power of attorney. Remember that general power of attorney and durable power of attorney is not always advisable, as it takes a lot of your autonomy away and leaves you little room to fight back if your wishes aren’t honored. Special power of attorney makes a lot more sense, but there may be cases where you need your agent to have general power of attorney.