A Durable Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that allows an individual (the principal) to appoint another individual (the agent or attorney-in-fact) to manage their affairs immediately or only in the event that the principal becomes incapacitated. The agent is given the authority to make decisions on behalf of the principal without their direct involvement or supervision.
The POA also allows the principal to specify the type of decisions the agent is allowed to make, as well as the specific powers the agent is authorized to exercise. For instance, the principal can grant just medical authority or maybe only financial authority. If the principal does not grant immediate POA authority, then the POA will generally be activated when the principal is unable to make decisions due to illness, injury, or other physical or mental impairments.
Benefits of Durable Power of Attorney
Protection of Assets: A Durable Power of Attorney can be used to protect assets from financial exploitation, ensuring that the individual’s wishes are followed when it comes to the distribution and management of their assets. It also allows the agent to take legal action on behalf of the individual if their assets are threatened in any way.
Ability to Make Decisions: A Durable Power of Attorney provides peace of mind that decisions can be made on behalf of the individual if they become unable to do so themselves. This ensures that the individual’s wishes are followed and that they are not left in a difficult position due to a lack of decision-making capacity.
Cost Savings: A Durable Power of Attorney can help to reduce costs associated with managing the affairs of an individual who has become incapacitated. Having an agent already in place to manage the individual’s financial and healthcare matters can save the individual or their family members time and money.
Disadvantages of Durable Power of Attorney
Potential Abuse: Durable powers of attorney are vulnerable to abuse since they grant a significant amount of power to the attorney-in-fact, who may use the power inappropriately or to their own benefit. Examples of abuse may include unauthorized withdrawals from financial accounts, unauthorized sales or transfers of property, and misappropriation of funds. You can revoke a power of attorney at anytime, however, it will be difficult to stop an agent from using the original durable power of attorney to continue to conduct business on your behalf.
Lack of Control: When granting a durable power of attorney, the principal (the person who grants the power of attorney) loses a significant amount of control over their assets and financial decision-making. The principal effectively cedes control over their financial and legal affairs to the attorney-in-fact, who may take actions of which the principal does not approve. In some cases, the principal may not be aware that the attorney-in-fact has taken certain actions without their permission, leading to potential legal problems down the road.
To sum it up, POA is an extremely powerful tool that allows individuals to designate someone to act on their behalf. So, please be sure that you choose an agent who will not take advantage of you. By signing a POA document, an individual can appoint a trusted person to make decisions, manage their finances, and take care of any other matters they are unable to take care of themselves.
If you would like to prepare your own durable POA document, you may find forms here. It is important to note that in most States, the document must be notarized in order to be valid. The notarization process ensures that the signature on the document is genuine and authentic and that the individual signing the document is of sound mind and is giving their consent freely. Notarizing a POA document is a simple process, and it is essential for ensuring that the document is legally binding and effective. When you are ready, you may have GreenSeal Notary notarize your durable power of attorney online from anywhere.