A Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that gives a person the power to act on behalf of someone else. The signor of the document (the principal) names another person (the agent) and gives them specific powers. The POA is very flexible; it can be customized to only give the powers the principal is comfortable granting, when they want to grant them. Such powers may include access to bank accounts, ability to sell real estate, and authorization to sign agreements on the principal’s behalf.
As with many estate planning tools, the POA must be executed before it is most needed. Frequently, individuals seek a POA because their parent or spouse is unable to manage their own affairs due to cognitive decline. In this instance, it is often too late to execute a POA. Informed consent is required to sign a POA, meaning the principal must understand the document.
An effective estate plan not only controls what happens after death, but also protects individuals in their most vulnerable years. To that end, the POA is one of the most important estate planning tools. It can ensure someone you trust has the legal authority to safeguard your well-being when you cannot do it yourself.
Thorin Blitz, Esq.