You know you are your loved one’s durable power of attorney agent, but now that your loved one is incapacitated and needs your help, you don’t know how to execute the document so you can take care of their financial affairs. We can help!
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A durable power of attorney (POA) is a document that appoints an agent to act on the principal’s behalf in financial matters while the principal is alive but unable to do things for himself. If, for example, your loved one is in a coma after a car accident, has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, or has had a stroke, they will not be capable of paying bills, selling property, or dealing with a government agency for benefits. That’s where you step in as the agent.
The Power of Attorney Document Must Be Acknowledged
A POA document is not a magic wand. You can’t just wave it in a bank teller’s face and expect to get access to your loved one’s account. First, the document must specifically grant you access to your loved one’s bank accounts. Then, you must present the document to the bank, and they will examine it. If the document specifies that you are only authorized to act on the principal’s behalf if he or she is incapacitated, you will have to present evidence of their incapacity. Even then, the bank could reject your request. This process applies to any business dealing you are hoping to accomplish on behalf of your loved one.
Is There a Better Way?
A power of attorney is an important document, and we recommend that everyone has one for financial matters and one for healthcare decisions. However, there are good POAs, and there are not-so-good ones. When you work with Ross & Shoalmire to create the document, you can be sure it will work when and how you need it to when the time comes. You can also count on us to help you execute it when it becomes necessary.
In addition to a well-crafted power of attorney, there are other steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition when a loved one becomes incapacitated. You might be able to sign a document at their bank that gives you permission to act on their behalf in certain situations. It might also make sense to designate you as a successor trustee for assets held in trust. We would be happy to discuss these and other options with you when you meet with us to discuss protecting your loved one.
We Will Help You Create the Document That’s Right for You
There is a lot to consider when naming a Power of Attorney and drafting the document, but our team will talk you through all of your options and help you draft a document that makes sense for you. Contact us to discuss this essential estate planning document today.