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Is Your Power of Attorney Done the Right Way?

Is Your Power of Attorney Done the Right Way? by Frank L. BuquicchioWhen I first meet with new clients, I ask them to bring any legal documents they may have, such as a power of attorney, so I can review them. I do this because, too often, the power of attorney is not properly executed or is outdated.

“How can it be outdated?” they might ask.

Laws change over time, including power of attorney laws. The last significant change was in 2010. So even if you created your power of attorney in 2016, if you used a statutory form from before 2010, you risk the power of attorney not being accepted when you become incapacitated. It is important that everything is done correctly.

Clients sometimes say, “Well, my lawyer did it, so I’m sure it’s fine.”

A power of attorney is a fairly complicated document and should be prepared and supervised by an experienced estate planning attorney. Attorneys who do not draft powers of attorney on a regular basis sometimes make errors: they have clients initial in the wrong place, initial in two places that contradict each other, or sign with a mere witness when the document really needs to be notarized.

These kinds of mistakes can create a debacle if you become incapacitated. The reason for having a power of attorney is to have an advanced directive allowing you to choose someone you trust to step in and handle your financial affairs if something should happen to you while you are alive.

The successful execution of an advanced directive depends on the power of attorney being properly prepared. Otherwise, the matter may have to go to a guardianship court, which could take months and cost thousands of dollars. Such hardship and hassle is unnecessary and can be avoided by making sure your power of attorney is correctly done.

If you do not have a power of attorney yet, or you have one but you are unsure whether it’s right for you, contact us to discuss your situation.

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