Moorestown Power of Attorney Lawyer
Moorestown Power of Attorney Lawyer
A power of attorney, also called a POA, is an important part of any estate plan. Many of our clients rely on these documents to help them get their affairs in order as they age by appointing someone to act as their agent. Without it, many seniors are vulnerable to exploitation or losing assets because of mismanagement.
Scott Counsel is a leading law firm that can create a POA or advise on related issues. Give our Moorestown power of attorney lawyers a call to schedule a consultation.
Do You Need a Power of Attorney?
Some people might not see an immediate need. They assume that their spouse or eldest child can easily step in and make critical decisions for them if they become incapacitated or ill. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
For example, your spouse might predecease you or become incapacitated. They could struggle to fully understand their duties and therefore perform them poorly. It is very easy to become overwhelmed, especially emotionally.
Your eldest child also has no automatic right to make decisions for you, and many disputes break out between children when Mom or Dad get elderly and need assistance.
Our clients can use a POA to appoint someone to act as their attorney-in-fact (also called an agent). You have control over who you choose. You can also assign specific powers to the POA, such as:
- Draw checks on a bank account
- Deposit checks or other assets into a bank account
- Make investment decisions for you
- Buy or sell real estate or collect rents
You can also designate a health care representative to make medical decisions if you are incapacitated. However, we often include this designation in a living will.
When Does a Power of Attorney Go into Effect?
This will depend on the type of POA you create. Let’s look at some of the options:
- General power of attorney. This POA is immediately effective. But it becomes ineffective when a person becomes incapacitated. A general power of attorney is therefore not helpful if you are mostly concerned with someone managing your affairs when you are unable to do so in the future.
- Durable power of attorney. This POA also is immediately effective. But it continues even if you become incapacitated or otherwise incompetent. That’s what makes the POA “durable.” A durable power of attorney is a good choice if you fear getting dementia or Alzheimer’s and want to ensure that you have an agent in place who can manage your affairs until your death.
- Limited power of attorney. This POA can go into effect immediately, though you usually set an expiration date. Our senior clients rarely request this type of legal arrangement, though it might be helpful for younger people who want to give someone the power to sell a specific piece of land.
- Springing power of attorney. This type of POA is not immediately effective. Instead, it becomes effective by some triggering event, such as a doctor’s finding that you are incapacitated or lack legal capacity. This POA allows our clients to retain control so long as they remain competent and only goes into effect when they cannot manage their affairs.
As you can see, these POAs are radically different. If you create the wrong one, then you might find that you don’t have the protection you need during a crisis in your life.
Can You Draft Your Own POA?
There are many online templates people could use, but this is a risky strategy. You might create the wrong POA or name someone inappropriate to serve as your attorney-in-fact. Some do-it-yourself POAs are completely ineffective and could create more tensions in the family when you are incapacitated.
Our legal team will create an airtight legal document and help you choose an appropriate attorney. Your choice of agent should be a deliberate, careful choice since this person has important duties to fulfill with little oversight. Often, our clients need to talk with their children to decide whether they are willing to serve.
What if You Get Divorced?
Many people naturally name their spouse as their attorney-in-fact. There are ample reasons to do this. No one knows you better than your husband or wife, and your finances are intertwined. However, getting divorced will revoke the designation of your spouse as attorney-in-fact. This means your POA could be completely ineffective. We encourage you to meet with an attorney if you have divorced or are planning to divorce.
Can You Revoke a POA?
So long as you are competent, you can revoke or amend a POA. For this reason, even younger people benefit by having a POA in place just in case they suffer a terrible accident or become incapacitated. If you are legally incompetent, however, then you might not be able to revoke a springing power of attorney that has gone into effect or legally change any estate planning document.
What Happens if the Attorney-in-Fact Exceeds Her Powers or Does a Bad Job?
Unfortunately, disputes of this sort sometimes crop up. For example, your mother might have instructed her attorney-in-fact to not sell the family home if she enters a nursing home. But the day your mother is dropped off at a facility, the home goes on the market. Other attorneys-in-fact dip into bank accounts for personal expenses or otherwise waste assets without authority to do so. If you have concerns like these, please contact Scott Counsel today. Sometimes a lawsuit can force the attorney-in-fact to follow the POA or even revoke the powers granted.
Contact Our Moorestown Power of Attorney Lawyer
The power of attorneys fulfills an important function in any estate planning, providing confidence that our client’s wishes will be respected as they age. With the right document, people can hopefully reduce familial tensions when end-of-life decisions must be made. If you have questions about a power of attorney or want to begin drafting one, please call us at (856) 281-3131. We can meet for a confidential consultation to discuss your issues.
– When my son, who has Cystic Fibrosis and CF related diabetes, was suddenly and unexpectedly removed from his Medicaid program, we were devastated and frightened not knowing where we would get the resources to pay for his extremely high priced prescriptions. Justin was the attorney who handled our case. From the very beginning, he proved to be very thorough and experienced with navigating the process of reversing the Medicaid decision. However, it was his apparent kind, caring nature that made us feel the most at ease. Justin was successful in securing a continuation of benefits for my son, and we are extremely grateful for having his expertise during this most stressful ongoing process. Thank you, Justin!
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