Have you ever wondered what would happen if you could not take care of your everyday personal, household, and family affairs? What if you could not sign checks, log into your computer, pay your bills, enter into agreements, or file your tax returns? Becoming incapable of managing your affairs can occur in a split second. With a power of attorney, a designated agent can seamlessly act on your behalf and take control of all your personal business and affairs if you are unable to do so. Without a power of attorney, your loved ones may need to petition the probate court to have a guardian and conservator appointed to act on your behalf if a disability prevents you from taking care of yourself and your personal business.
We will try to accommodate you within 24 hours if you need a power of attorney or other estate planning documents.
Once legally prepared, a durable power of attorney allows others to act as an authorized agent on your behalf for every possible contingency. However, a power of attorney must meet certain specific legal requirements before it will be accepted by corporations, medical professionals, banks, and brokerage firms. Here are just a few benefits of a durable power of attorney:
- A durable power of attorney allows you to select others to act on your behalf. A person named in a power of attorney to act on your behalf is known as an agent or attorney in fact.
- A durable power of attorney can resolve any issues in the family regarding your intentions for the management of your affairs.
- You can name a personal representative to protect your estate and manage your affairs after your death.
- A durable power of attorney will avoid the need for your family to petition the probate court to have a guardian and conservator appointed to manage your affairs.
Terminology Associated with a Power of Attorney
- Principal or Grantor: The person who grants the power(s) to another.
- Attorney in fact or agent: The person to whom the power(s) is granted.
- Durable Power of Attorney: Grants authority to another person for a wide range of powers that is durable because it remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated.
- Limited Power of Attorney: A power of attorney that exists for a limited purpose or time frame (such as to sell a home).
- Revocation of Power of Attorney: The act of terminating a power of attorney and canceling the grant of authority to an attorney in fact or agent.
Agent may be Granted Extensive Powers to Act on Your Behalf
You are free to delegate a wide range of powers to the agent named in your power of attorney. In general, you can give your agent or attorney in fact, full authority to do anything including:
- Enter into contracts or other agreements.
- Arrange for medical care or other professional services.
- Buy and sell real estate.
- Buy and sell stocks and other investments.
- Sign your name to checks and agreements.
- Make deposits or withdrawals for you.
- Pay your bills or cancel unneeded services.
- Employ others to maintain your household.
- Maintain and insure the property.
- File lawsuits or defend lawsuits on your behalf.
Successor and Co-Agents
Naming a successor agent, or a co-agent is a great way to give your power of attorney stability in case the primary agent is unavailable or cannot serve on your behalf for any reason.
A power of attorney can be revoked by the grantor at any time whatsoever or when the agent has become unreliable or untrustworthy. In most cases, destroying the power of attorney and providing written notice to the agent are sufficient acts to terminate or revoke a power of attorney. The following additional steps can be taken to revoke a power of attorney:
1. Give written notice of intent to revoke the power of attorney to the agents(s).
2. Give written notice of intent to revoke the power of attorney to all financial institutions.
3. Record notice of intent to revoke the power of attorney at the register of deeds in each county where you own property.
4. Destroy every power of attorney in existence.
5. Create a new power of attorney and state that it supersedes any and all prior dated power of attorney.
6. Publish notice of intent to revoke the power of attorney in a local legal newspaper.
If the agent is abusing his or her authority, or not acting in the best interest of the grantor, revoking the power of attorney may be an urgent matter requiring the services of an attorney. Filing a lawsuit against the agent may be necessary when an agent fails to act in the best interests of the estate.
If the grantor is not competent to revoke a power of attorney, anyone interested in the grantor’s welfare can get the court involved to cancel the power of attorney and ask the court to appoint a conservator.
Being of Sound Mind, Free from Duress and Undue Influence
If you become mentally incompetent and do not have a durable power of attorney or living trust, your loved ones may need to petition the probate court to have a conservator and/or guardian appointed to manage your affairs. The probate court will require the conservator to provide a periodic accounting to the court. The court analyst may require supporting documentation and receipts to verify expenditures. Probate court proceedings can be completely avoided when someone is appointed to act on behalf of the estate pursuant to a durable power of attorney or living trust.
We Will Prepare the Perfect Estate Plan for Your Family
As we say: Plan, Prosper & Live Well. Protect your estate and your loved ones by preparing a power of attorney. Call Macomb Estate Planning for a free consultation and let our professionals prepare an estate plan that is perfect for your particular needs and circumstances.