Among the many concerns that need to be addressed during estate planning, one of the most important is designating who will be responsible for making decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
The legal document granting this authority is known as a power of attorney (POA). Several different varieties of POA allow agents to act on your in specific capacities depending on the circumstances.
While it is possible to set up a POA on your own using publicly available resources, it is almost always a good idea to seek help from a Cary power of attorney lawyer with experience in these matters. Once retained, a qualified estate planning attorney can work to ensure your legal documents are in line with your specific wishes and that they protect your best interests.
When you give powers of attorney to an agent as part of your estate planning process, you typically grant that party control over either your financial assets, medical care, or both.
These types of documents are respectively called financial and healthcare powers of attorney, and both allow a designated loved one to act on your behalf if you suffer an injury, illness, or degenerative condition that leaves you unable to make your own decisions.
In many cases, you can create a durable power of attorney with few limits on what financial or healthcare decisions the agent has the authority to make. However, a qualified attorney in Cary can help y ou set up a limited power of attorney if you only want to grant an agent the authority to make certain decisions on your behalf.
Either way, a POA document must specify when the agent is granted the powers listed in the document. For example, a durable power of attorney allows the agent to start making decisions on the principal’s behalf immediately, whereas a springing power of attorney only begins if the principal becomes incapacitated.
Like a last will and testament, it is possible to change the terms of a power of attorney or cancel it completely once it has been put into place, provided the principal follows proper procedures for doing so. The principal can either include language in the original document that specifies when an agent’s powers of attorney should be removed, or they can revoke it in writing at a later date if they choose to do so.
Likewise, someone with guardianship of your estate can terminate a POA if they believe doing so would protect the estate. Additionally, if the document is terminated, spouses granted powers of attorney will automatically have their role as agent revoked if you divorce.
In certain situations, additional procedures may be necessary to invalidate an outdated power of attorney and replace it with a new one, including filing an instrument of revocation with any register of deeds office in which it was recorded. A local POA advisor could provide crucial assistance with every step of this process.
Granting someone else powers of attorney over you is a big decision, and it should not be made lightly or without proper consideration for the potential legal ramifications. Working with a qualified estate planning attorney is usually the best way to ensure that you set up this central component of your estate plan in a way that benefits you and serves your best interests.
At Cary Estate Planning, we can answer any questions you have about this particular legal instrument during an initial consultation. Contact us today and start exploring your options.