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Power of Attorney

Why do I need a financial power of attorney?

If you become ill or injured, someone else must step in to help you care for your finances. With a financial power of attorney, you name a trusted person to pay bills, make bank deposits, collect benefits, and handle other money matters on your behalf. Without this important document, your loved ones will have to go to court to get a conservatorship to manage your financial affairs.

Who makes decisions for me under a financial power of attorney?

The person you name to make decisions for you is called your agent. Any competent adult can serve as your agent. This should be someone you trust, who is honest, possesses common sense and is dependable. We strongly recommend choosing someone who is relatively nearby to manage the practical aspects of helping you with your finances. You should also choose a back-up agent, in case your primary agent is unavailable or unable to help you.

When does my financial power of attorney take effect?

We recommend that your financial power of attorney take effect as soon as you sign it. This is called a ‘durable power of attorney.’ If you don’t, it will automatically end if you become incapacitated, and the court will need to appoint a conservatorship for your friends or family to access and manage your finances.

If you only want your agent to have access to you finances upon your incapacity, you can create a ‘springing durable power of attorney.’ This usually requires doctor certification of your incapacity by two doctors. This can add time to the process and delay your agent’s access to your finances.

When does my financial power of attorney end?

A durable power of attorney automatically ends at your death. You can also revoke your power of attorney at any time that you are alive, as long as you are mentally competent. If you get divorced and your spouse is your agent, your power of attorney is automatically terminated. Other situations, although rare, where your power of attorney ends happens when the court invalidates the document or if no agent is available. To avoid the problem of lack of available agent, we strongly recommend that you designate at least one back-up agent.

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