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5 Misconceptions About a Power Of Attorney

December 03, 2018 in: Senior Health

It is extremely painful to watch your parents become ill. If your parent is becoming mentally incapacitated, or the condition is terminal, they may want to give someone the right to handle their financial and medical dealings. This is where a power of attorney comes in.

What Is A Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document allowing a person, called a principal, to appoint an agent to act on their behalf and in their best interests in the event the principal becomes seriously injured or mentally incompetent.

However, there are a lot of myths and misconception about a power of attorney.

Misconception #1: Legally Incompetent People Can Sign A Power of Attorney

No, people who are legally incapacitated cannot sign a power of attorney document. In fact, the document is created before and for the event when if person becomes legally incompetent. People need to be of sound mind when they make important legal decisions, such as signing a POA document. The approval of the principal is imperative, and if this person becomes incapacitated without a power of attorney, the family needs to go through a complicated court process to obtain guardianship or conservatorship.

Misconception #2: Power Of Attorney Document Can Be Downloaded From The Internet

Sure, the internet is the provider of all amazing and useful things, technically. It is possible to download a pre-made power of attorney from the internet and get it signed. But it doesn’t mean you should. In fact, cross this completely off your list.

A power of attorney should always be customized for the specific needs and requirements of each unique circumstance. One downloaded from the internet cannot detail the relevant information appropriate to your situation. It will also likely to be outdated, not cover legal state-by-state requirements, has vague or ambiguous wordings, and lacks proper authorities.

A power of attorney taken from the internet may be illegal in some cases and may lead to severe lawsuits or legal and administrative repercussions.

Misconception #3: Power Of Attorney Guarantees Complete Control To Your Agent

Just because someone has placed an agent to look after his administrative, financial and medical affairs, doesn’t mean he or she can abuse the power with impunity. By law, a power of attorney requires the agent act only in the best interest of the principal. If the agent abuses their authority, they can be persecuted by the law.

One of the biggest reasons people hesitate from getting a power of attorney is because they fear their agent will not manage their estates or financial affairs properly. Which is why it is important you give the power of attorney to someone you implicitly trust.

Misconception #4: There Is Only One Type Of Power Of Attorney

Many people believe there is one standard power of attorney. In fact, there are dozens of types of these legal documents. The most popular types are the general power of attorney and the limited power of attorney.

A general power of attorney allows the agent to perform almost any act of the principal, including managing his or her estate or finances. However, the language in the power of attorney should be specifically drafted and the agent needs to check the document if it grants them a certain power. It can be revoked once the principal becomes incompetent, dies or revokes the right.

On the other hand, a limited power of attorney only empowers an agent to perform certain tasks at certain times.

Misconception #5: A Power Of Attorney Survives Death Of Principal

It does not. All powers of attorney become invalidated once the principal dies. A durable power of attorney may last even after a person becomes legally incompetent, meaning an agent can still act on their behalf. However, if the principal passes away, the agent no longer has that power.

It is helpful to have this conversation with your loved ones when they are happy and healthy. This ensures everyone is on the same page, and the proper power of attorney is established.  To know when the right time is for you to get power of attorney, check out this article

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