An Overview of Powers of Attorney
Hyman Darling, CELA | Springfield, MA
The topic I’d like to talk about today is Powers of Attorney. Most likely you’ve heard them called Durable Powers of Attorney. It’s a very important document, as it decides who’s going to make your decisions for you, primarily financial, in the event that you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. This is an important document because you’re delegating the authority to somebody else as to who will make those decisions for you as opposed to having your family be required to go to a Probate court and have a conservate or guardian appointed to be in charge. That process might work, but it’s expensive, it’s time consuming, it’s emotionally driven, and at the same time it will delay the process of getting somebody appointed and you don’t have the ability to decide who’s going to be appointed. Within the Power of Attorney itself, you are the one who is making that decision. You are determining who’s going to be in charge of your financial affairs if you can’t make the decisions for yourself. And in most cases you’d also appoint a backup so if the first person you’ve named can’t serve, then you have a back up person to serve so that you won’t have a document that just doesn’t work for you. Within this document you might also have specific clauses that you would like to include, such as the power to sell property, the power to make gifts to your family, friends, charities in the event of your incapacity. You might also have language in there that allows someone to have access to your business assets, if you have a business that you’re running. If you have social media, passwords, online accounts, you might give someone the authority to have access to those records. Possibly if you have a safety deposit box to have somebody have the access to that box and remove the contents from the box. In some states you have the authority as the power of attorney agent to make decisions relative to amending a trust or establishing a trust for you if you never got around to it during your lifetime while you were competent. So this document is an important one because you take charge of your own affairs.