As we discussed before, any time you see “Power of Attorney,” you’re giving someone (your “agent”) the power to represent you. Whereas the Health Care Power of Attorney grants your agent the power to make medical decisions on your behalf, the General Durable Power of Attorney gives your agent authority over financial matters.
So what does the “General” mean? As opposed to a “Specific” Power of Attorney, the General Power of Attorney has a wide-ranging grant of authority to your agent. He/she is given power to represent you in just about every financial capacity they can. A Specific Power of Attorney would allow your agent to represent you in one designated way: to sign this specific document on this specific date; to make this one payment to this credit card company, etc. The General Power of Attorney covers them all.
What does the “Durable” mean? It means the document survives your incapacitation. If you are ever mentally or physically incapacitated, the Power of Attorney ( POA ) stays active and your attorney is still permitted to represent you. This, frankly, is the point of a Power of Attorney: it prevents your financial life from grinding to a halt in the event you cannot act on your own behalf. Important side note here is that the POA survives your incapacitation, but not your death. Once you die, the POA is rendered ineffective and your Will governs your estate.
A closer look at the language of many Durable Powers of Attorney reveals something interesting: although the document survives incapacitation, it doesn’t require incapacitation. Documents that require the occurrence of some event to be effective are called “Springing Powers of Attorney. The minute you sign, your agent has full authority to represent you financially. Why would you ever want that to be the case? Because proving your incapacitation would quickly become a logistical nightmare, requiring trained physicians or psychologists to make very high-stakes opinions on your ability to make financial decisions. And, in cases where capacity is limited due to Alzheimer’s for example, a finding of incapacitation on Tuesday might not carry over to Wednesday when your mental state might be completely different. Thus, the powers given are immediate and it is CRUCIAL you select someone you can trust for this very important role.
For help in selecting this person and an explanation of a few checks on your agent that still keep them from running off to Mexico with all of your savings, call Asurest to set up an appointment. We’ll be happy to guide you through the process of selecting an agent and explain their rights and responsibilities.
This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.
Disclaimer: This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.