By Campbell Kyle Proffitt LLP – Anne Hensley Poindexter.
When the average individual thinks about “estate planning”, Wills and/or Trusts are what come to mind. There is much more that should be considered when you meet with a lawyer to plan your estate. Powers of Attorney, in particular, are valuable planning tools that every person should consider.
A Power of Attorney is a written document in which you authorize another person to act for you. It is possible to designate a trusted individual to act for you when you are unable to do so or as a matter of convenience.
Powers of Attorney can be broad or limited. You can give another the power to take almost any action you can take yourself. For example, many “general” powers authorize your agent to undertake banking, real estate, insurance, and gift and estate transactions to name only a few. Limited powers of attorney typically provide your agent authority to exercise one or a few powers, such as power to close a real estate transaction.
Powers of Attorney can be effective at signing so that your agent immediately has authority to act, or they can be springing. Springing powers are effective on a date specified in the document or upon the occurrence of an event. For example, powers may be effective upon certification of your incapacity by a physician or on a specific date, such as at closing for a real estate transaction.
Powers of Attorney to allow another to exercise healthcare powers for you may be combined with other estate planning documents, such as a Living Will. A Power of Attorney for most purposes terminates at your death with the exception of the power to make anatomical gifts, request an autopsy and/or make pleas for the disposition of bodily remains, if those powers are granted in the document. Otherwise, Powers of Attorney terminate on a date specified in the document. You may also revoke Powers of Attorney at any time.
Powers of Attorney are valuable and important planning documents. The most important practical considerations are selecting an individual you can trust and carefully selecting the powers you grant your agent.
Anne Hensley Poindexter, Partner
Campbell Kyle Proffitt LLP