Why You Should Have a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney, similar to a medical power of attorney, is a legal document that grants an individual the right to make certain decisions on your behalf. Unlike a medical power of attorney, however, a power of attorney allows financial and legal decisions to be made on your behalf instead of medical ones. The attorney-in-fact, or individual granted the right to manage your affairs, can be given the ability to sign checks on your behalf, approve monetary transactions, sign legal documents and more. A power of attorney can also allow the attorney-in-fact to carry out your financial and legal wishes in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.

Creating a Power of Attorney

A power of attorney can either be general or durable, and this will affect when an attorney-in-fact is allowed to step in and make decisions on your behalf. A general power of attorney (known simply as a power of attorney) grants the attorney-in-fact the ability to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf until you die or become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney lasts beyond the point of incapacitation. You may wish to speak with an estate planning attorney to learn more about which type of power of attorney is best for you.

Whichever type of power of attorney you choose, the document will need to be created when you are of sound mind and can understand the legal ramifications of the document. You will want to think carefully about the attorney-in-fact you choose: they should be a responsible individual who has a deep understanding of your needs and wishes and who will act in your best interest. The power of attorney will then need to be signed by all parties and notarized.   

When to Review and Update Your Power of Attorney

You may wish to update your power of attorney after a major life event, such as a marriage, divorce or the death or incapacitation of your attorney-in-fact. You may also wish to periodically review your power of attorney to ensure that the attorney-in-fact you have chosen is still willing and capable of handling this responsibility.   

Enlisting the Help of an Estate Planning Attorney

When creating a power of attorney, an estate planning attorney is a great resource to help you determine which kind of power of attorney is best for you and who should be selected as your attorney-in-fact. An estate planning attorney can also ensure that your power of attorney document complies with Maryland state law. If you would like to draft a power of attorney or have questions about creating a power of attorney or other estate planning issues, contact Alexander A. Hassani of Hassani, Focas & Fifer, P.A. today.

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