Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document that names a trusted person to serve as your Agent. It empowers your named Agent to do the things that you wish.
Your Power of Attorney (POA) will be a crucial document to have in the event that you are the victim of a serious accident of illness. But it can also be used whenever it is convenient. For example, if you are traveling out of country and need a document signed back home, your Agent can sign for you using his powers under the POA.
It is important to bear in mind that your POA ceases to be effective when you pass away. Consequently, your Agent will no longer be able to act for you using the POA after you’ve passed away. Instead, the POA is one of the four major documents that must be included in your estate plan for it to be thorough.
As long as you have the mental capacity to do so, you may revoke your Power of Attorney at any time and for any reason.General vs. Limited Powers of Attorney
Your POA may be a “General Power of Attorney” in which case your Agent is authorized to do just about anything that you can do. Or it can be a “Limited Power of Attorney” under which your Agent is only authorized to do the specific things listed.
As a general rule, your estate plan should include a General Power of Attorney. The reason for this is that it is difficult to anticipate all of the types of things that your Agent might need to do in the event the need arises.
A POA may also be a “springing” Power of Attorney that only becomes effective after your physician has certified that you are incapacitated. Our office recommends against the use of springing POA’s as they tend to result in a significant delay between the time that a need arises and the time that the authority becomes effective. The standard revocable POA is a better approach in our view.Financial vs. Medical Powers of Attorney
The two broad areas over which authority may be given under a General Power of Attorney are financial matters and medical matters.
Financial matters are those involving your property, possessions, and accounts. Medical matters are those questions involving medical and housing decisions for you.
A POA may be a Financial Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, or both. Much more often than not, your POA will authorize your Agent to act in both financial and medical circumstances. That is simply due to the fact that an Agent who is the best choice for financial and property matters is usually the same person that you would trust for medical decisions.
Idaho Code, section 15-12-201 only permits an Agent under a Power of Attorney to create or change your estate plan under your POA if those powers are specifically spelled out in the POA. This limitation primarily prevents your Agent from lining his or her own pockets contrary to your wishes.Choosing Your Agent
As you consider who to appoint as your Agent, it important to choose someone who is scrupulously trustworthy, someone that will only act in your best interests and will never even be tempted to take advantage of the situation. It should be someone that you have known very well for many years. Though an Agent who is younger than you may have some benefit, it should not be someone that is so youthful that their behavior and decisions might be immature.
Though not legally required, it is advisable to choose not only your primary Agent, but at least one alternate Agent, as well. This will protect you in the event your primary Agent is unavailable to serve when needed.
While it is also permissible for you to appoint co-Agents, this tends to be a cumbersome arrangement when signatures are required. It can also lead to a deadlock between your agents. So, a better approach is to select one person as your primary Agent and another as your backup agent.Call Now to Arrange Your Power of Attorney
Taking the time to create your Power of Attorney as part of your complete estate plan will do much to avoid the expensive and time-consuming process of having a court appoint a Guardian or Conservator for you if you become incapacitated. And, if the appointment of one becomes necessary, it lets the court know who you would want to help you in that capacity.
Call our offices at 208-939-2600. We’d be happy to answer your questions by phone or set up your free initial appointment to discuss your Power of Attorney or your complete estate plan.