Powers of Attorney are legal documents that are often part of an estate plan although they can be used independently. What is a Power of Attorney? It is basically a legal document that designates someone else to have legal rights and powers to act in your stead. In a Power of Attorney, you are the “principal” while the person you authorize to handle your affairs is your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” Your agent is obligated to make decisions and act based on what he or she understands to be your preferences in whatever matter is at hand. Your agent is granted this power by the legal document and is not permitted to supersede what he or she knows to be your wishes. In many cases, your instructions and wishes are delineated in specific language for your agent to follow.
Various types of Powers of Attorney can be used for different purposes. These can include general Powers of Attorney, medical Powers of Attorney, and financial Powers of Attorney. For instance, if you needed to leave the country in the middle of a real estate sale, you could appoint a trusted person to act as your agent to sign paperwork regarding the sale while you are away. In a general Power of Attorney, you can appoint someone to make decisions and act on your behalf in any life matter that arises, from handling your banking to selling stocks, filing your taxes, or taking your dog to the groomer.
Need a Power of Attorney or estate plan help in Colorado Springs? Call Drexler Law at (719) 259-0050 to arrange to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.
Durable Powers of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney gives your agent the authority to make decisions even should you become incapacitated. For example, if you were injured in a car accident and rendered unconscious for days or weeks, your agent would be authorized to handle your affairs while you were unable to. He or she would be able to do this without having to get permission from a court through a guardianship or conservatorship. Having a Durable Power of Attorney put into place in advance could save your loved ones the stress and cost of having to go through a court proceeding.
A Power of Attorney is created by the principal who generally puts into writing in the document exactly what he or she intends for the agent to do so that it is clearly expressed. Thus, these documents are customized to your unique circumstances and needs. The Power of Attorney will then take effect in the manner directed by the document.
Two ways exist for a Power of Attorney to take effect. One is through what is called a “springing power.” This means the document will spring into effect only when a certain event as written in the document occurs. This event is commonly when something happens to cause your incapacity which is declared by a medical doctor. The other way is through what is called “standing power.” This means the document goes into effect when it is signed by you. However, a Power of Attorney can involve both routes to becoming effective; it could be a standing power if you have designated your spouse to act as your agent and, if your spouse cannot act, then your next named agent would become effective through the “springing power.”
If you need a Durable Power of Attorney or any other type of Power of Attorney, it is vital to remember that you should always name someone you trust and whom you know will act in good faith on your behalf. Your agent will be required to follow any direction or instructions you have laid out. If these are not laid out or specific enough, then he or she will have the burden of doing what is believed to be in your best interests. If your agent fails to do this, he or she may be held liable for taking improper actions.
Need a Power of Attorney?
Powers of Attorney should be drafted and reviewed by an attorney so that they are legally valid and written per state guidelines. You will especially want an attorney’s input in matters where you wish specific instructions to be given as to the exact powers you are handing over to your agent. At Drexler Law, we have years of experience in creating and finalizing all estate planning legal documents for clients throughout Colorado Springs. Our attorneys can guide you through the legal process and ensure that your estate plan and/or documents make clear your intentions and wishes.
Ready to discuss your legal needs? Contact us at (719) 259-0050 to get started today.