Power of Attorney
Another service offered by the McConnell Law office is drafting a Power of Attorney. Mr. McConnell can help you draft or revoke a power of attorney.
A power of attorney is an important part of lifetime planning. A power of attorney gives one or more persons the power to act on your behalf as your agent.
The power may be limited to a particular activity, such as closing the sale of your home, or be general in its application. The power may give temporary or permanent authority to act on your behalf. The power may take effect immediately, or only upon the occurrence of a future event, usually a determination that you are unable to act for yourself due to mental or physical disability. A power of attorney may be revoked, but most states require written notice of revocation to the person named to act for you.
The person named in a power of attorney to act on your behalf is commonly referred to as your "agent" or "attorney-in-fact." With a valid power of attorney, your agent can take any action permitted in the document, such as sign checks, opening and closing bank accounts, and conducting real estate transactions.
Why would anyone give such sweeping authority to another person? One answer is convenience. If you are buying or selling assets and do not wish to appear in person to close the transaction, you may take advantage of a power of attorney. Another important reason to use power of attorney is to prepare for situations when you may not be able to act on your own behalf due to absence or incapacity. Such a disability may be temporary, for example, due to travel, accident, or illness, or it may be permanent.
If you do not have a power of attorney and become unable to manage your personal or business affairs, it may become necessary for a court to appoint one or more people to act for you. People appointed in this manner are referred to as guardians, conservators, or committees. If a court proceeding is needed, you may not have the ability to choose the person who will act for you. Most people do not want to be subject to this type of public proceeding, so being proactive to create the appropriate document to avoid this is important. A power of attorney allows you to choose who will act for you and defines his or her authority and its limits, if any.
Who Should Be Your Agent?
You may wish to choose a family member to act on your behalf. Many people name their spouses or one or more children. Regardless of whether you name co-agents, it is a good idea to name one or more successor agents to address the possibility that the person you name as agent may be unavailable or unable to act when the time comes.
There are no special qualifications necessary for someone to act as an attorney-in-fact except that the person must not be a minor or otherwise incapacitated. The best choice is someone you trust. Integrity, not financial acumen, is often the most important trait of a potential agent.
What Kinds of Powers Should I Give My Agent?
In addition to managing your day-to-day financial affairs, your attorney-in-fact can take steps to implement your estate plan. Come in to discuss with the attorney what your goals and needs are to better determine the powers.
Drafting Power of Attorney Documents
When you come in to see the attorney, please bring with you the name(s) and address(es) of individual(s) to be named as your agent(s). They must be at least 18 years old. Once the document is drafted it will need to be signed in the presence of a notary.