Role of a Montgomery County Power of Attorney Lawyer
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint a person (or an organization) to make decisions for you or manage your affairs if you become unable or unavailable to do so in the future. Powers of attorney are important tools in estate and health care planning.
Anyone concerned about managing their affairs as they age could benefit from understanding the various types of powers of attorney and how they could benefit from them. A skilled power of attorney lawyer can help you understand your options and make the decision that is right for you.
Types of Powers of Attorney
There are many different varieties of powers of attorney and all of them can be carefully drafted to suit an individual’s circumstances and goals. The thing that all powers of attorney have in common is that they give some level of control over the affairs or the principal (the legal name for the party creating the power of attorney) to an “attorney-in-fact” (the person or organization who is given the authority.)
General Powers of Attorney
A general power of attorney gives wide-ranging powers to the attorney-in-fact to act on the behalf of the principal. This type of document can be included in an estate plan to make certain that someone can handle general financial matters. They may also be useful when the signer will be unavailable for a period of time and needs to make sure that someone they trust can make decisions and handle their affairs during the absence.
Special Powers of Attorney
A special power of attorney will set out exactly what powers the attorney-in-fact may exercise. For example, when someone cannot be present for sign important documents in person, they could use a special power of attorney to appoint an agent for the limited purpose of signing for them as their attorney-in-fact.
Health Care Powers of Attorney
Also called a health care proxy or advance directive, this type of power of attorney gives an agent the authority to make health care decisions in the event that someone becomes unable to make decisions for themselves. A health care power of attorney can also include directions regarding preference regarding what types of care someone does or does not wish to receive and preferences about being kept on life support.
Durable Powers of Attorney
When a power of attorney is “durable” it stays in effect after the person who makes it becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle their own affairs. Unless a power of attorney specifies that it is durable, it will automatically end when the person who makes it loses their mental capacity. For this reason, anyone creating a power of attorney needs to carefully consider their objectives in deciding whether to specify whether they are creating a durable power of attorney or one that may expire. Legal counsel can be an important part of this planning process.
Other Considerations with Powers of Attorney
An experienced lawyer can help with planning and crafting appropriate powers of attorney. Counsel can also help someone make sure they comply with legal formalities and practices as they prepare and finalize these important planning documents.
Selecting an Agent
Trust is crucial in selecting an agent or agents to give powers of attorney. The agent needs to be someone who will consider the best interests and wishes of the principal. This is particularly so in situations in which the agent will be making decisions after a serious or permanent medical situation arises.
A power of attorney is only valid if the person creating it is mentally competent at the time that they sign it. For example, a durable power of attorney can be a powerful tool for advance planning and to avoid lengthy disputes such as guardianship proceedings, but they must be signed while the principal is still of sound mind.
To be effective, a power of attorney must be properly executed and notarized. Most banks, courts and other entities will not accept a power of attorney unless they are given a certified copy of the document. For this reason, any time someone creates a power of attorney, they should sign it before a notary and have several certified copies prepared.
Selecting a Montgomery County Lawyer to Assist with Powers of Attorney
A skilled lawyer can be an important ally as you consider powers of attorney and make other important decisions about your personal and financial affairs. A Montgomery County powers of attorney lawyer could advise you about your options, help you carry out your plans, and make sure that your documents meet legal requirements.
Call today for more information about how your local Maryland trusts and estates lawyer can help meet your legal needs.