“Cynthia Alleman helped me with a power of attorney. It was an emergency and she made time for me. She was there for me with my kids during a critical time in our lives and I am grateful.” Lisa Sorrells
A Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that allows someone else to act in your place, making decisions for you. This person is referred to as your agent or Attorney-in-Fact.
The following questions and answers are meant to offer some general background information on Powers of Attorney. Please contact us for a consultation.
- If I sign a POA, can I continue to make decisions for myself?
- Can I wait until after I’m no longer able to handle my own affairs to sign my Power of Attorney?
- Are there different kinds of Powers of Attorney?
- Can I have my agent act only if I’m not able to make decisions on my own?
- Can I have a POA for healthcare decisions?
- Who should be my agent to a Power of Attorney?
- Can I have more than one agent in a POA?
- Can I change my mind about my Power of Attorney?
- Do I have to file the POA in a government office?
- Do I need a lawyer to prepare a POA?
No one can be certain of the future. Having a POA helps you to be prepared. An accident or disease could leave you unable to make decisions for yourself, or you may need to have someone take care of your business if you are out of town. A POA allows someone to make important decisions for you such as:
- Buying or selling your real estate or possessions
- Managing your property
- Managing your household bills
- Investing or not investing your money
- Handling your tax, retirement, and insurance matters
- Making medical decisions
Yes; as long as you are mentally competent to do so. The agent is your representative, not your boss.
No; a person must be legally competent at the time the POA was signed in order for it to be valid.
Yes; you choose the one that fits your need. A POA is a contract and can vary greatly.
A specific POA is used for a particular situation, such as having someone sell your property for you while you were out of town. A general POA is used if you want someone to handle many of your responsibilities for a long period of time.
Can I have my agent act only if I’m not able to make decisions on my own?
Yes; your attorney can create the type of POA that you desire. A springing POA becomes effective only if a certain event (specified by you) occurs, such as illness or disability.
Yes; a Healthcare Power of Attorney is used for this purpose. You may give your agent the same power and authority as you have to make your own medical decisions. This includes the power to consent to your doctor giving, withholding, or stopping any medical treatment, service, or diagnostic procedure including life-sustaining procedures. Your agent’s duties begin when you are not able to make your own medical decisions and end as soon as you are certified as competent to make your own decisions.
Although an agent has fiduciary duties, giving someone this power can be like signing a blank check. You should choose someone you completely trust and do not allow anyone to force you into giving them this power.
Yes; but be aware there are advantages and disadvantages. Two or more agents can provide more sound decisions, but this can also result in delays if they disagree.
Yes; you can change or terminate (revoke) your POA whenever you like, as long as you are mentally competent to do so.
Yes; you or your agent must file the POA with the Register of Deeds office if the POA will continue to be effective when you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself (a durable POA).
It is best to consult an attorney because of the importance of a POA. A lawyer can answer other questions you may have such as:
- Who can witness a POA?
- What powers should I give my agent?
- Does a POA have to act in my best interest?
- Should my agent prepare accountings?
- Should my agent be bonded?
- Can POA allow someone to “put me away” in a mental hospital?
- How do I revoke my POA?
- Will this POA be effective if I move?
- I have a form POA, will it work for me? Have any laws changed since this form Power of Attorney was created?
- How do I protect myself from my agent or their spouse stealing from me?