A Power of Attorney is a document between two parties, a principal and an agent, through which a principal can appoint someone to make financial decisions on their behalf. The principal is the person who signs the Power of Attorney and allows the agent to take over financial assets. Often, documents such as this are used when a principal is unable to make their own financial decisions, or in some cases, simply needs someone else to make such decisions for them. It is a serious document which should be entered into after much consideration.
A Power of Attorney is different than an Advance Healthcare Directive because an Advance Healthcare Directive only allows another individual to make healthcare decisions on a principal s behalf. It talks about specific circumstances under which a principal would like someone else to be their agent for health and allows a principal to define the types of authority they would like the agent to have. A Power of Attorney is similar, but is used only for financial decisions.
A Springing or Conditional POA only goes into effect if a certain event or condition occurs. It can end at a specific time, when you become incapacitated or when you die.
If you take the time to create a Power of Attorney, you want to make sure that it will be effective. There are situations where your document may be rejected, or powerless if you aren’t careful. Here are a few steps you can take to help ensure your POA won’t be powerless:
- Use a state-specific form – Each state has different laws and statutes governing this document. Our state-specific forms are customized for each particular state.
- Make sure you have all signatures and authorizations – Some banks and financial institutions have specific requirements as to who needs to sign the document.
- Keep it up-to-date – If your state has rewritten its laws or your document is more than several years, it may be considered ‘stale’ and may need to be updated.
- Get it witnessed and notarized – Sign your document in front of witnesses, stating that you were competent and signed the document voluntarily. Also make sure to get your document authenticated by a notary public.