Power of Attorney in Utah
A power of attorney (PoA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint a trustworthy person to make financial decisions or medical decisions for you and grants them legal authority to act on your behalf. In the event that you become mentally incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions, a power of attorney will allow another person, which you have personally picked, to make a choice for you. Like a living trust or living will, a power of attorney document is an estate planning document that takes effect only under certain circumstances are met.
For instance, a last will and testament will only take effect when the executor (the person who wrote the will) dies. It will be used as the basis for the distribution of assets. On the other hand, a power of attorney becomes in effect when the grantor is permanently disabled or ceased to obtain the mental capacity to speak for himself. Therefore, if you plan to execute a power of attorney, you should think carefully about who will take-over and manage your financial and other legal affairs. Since powers of attorneys are just one of the many estate planning tools you can use to protect your family’s best interest, it is recommended that you work closely with an estate planning lawyer to identify which tools fit your circumstances.
Why would you need a power of attorney?
If you are someone who always plans ahead and doesn’t want to find yourself stuck when an unexpected event occurs, having a power of attorney is a good fit. It is a safeguard that enables you to be at peace knowing that you can choose who will be making decisions for you in case something unexpected happens to your wellbeing. It is also useful in appointing a successor or a care agent to pay bills for you and manage your finances especially when you are living abroad.
What can powers of attorney do?
The powers granted can be used to authorize someone almost for any medical and financial management such as:
- Document signing on behalf of you
- Operating bank-accounts
- Fill-out paperwork
- Paying bills
- Managing real property
- Managing investments
- Collecting rent
- Becoming a health proxy
- Executing healthcare decisions
- Deciding whether or not to get Life-sustaining treatment like life support
Are all Powers of Attorney the same?
While a power of attorney enables you in appointing someone as your attorney-in-fact or agent, there are different types of powers of attorney, and each form covers a different scope.
A Limited Power of Attorney authorizes the appointed person to act in your stead for a specific purpose. They cannot act outside of the scope indicated in the document.
A General Power of Attorney gives the agent all the powers and rights that you have. You could use this type of power of attorney even if you are not incapacitated. However, this ends when you die or become incapacitated, or when you decide to revoke it.
A Durable Power of Attorney can be general or limited in scope, but it will still take effect even after incapacity takes place. Should you have a severe disability and you weren’t able to create this type of document, no one can act on your behalf. Only the court can designate a conservator or guardian.
For the Springing Power of Attorney, appointing only becomes effective at the moment you become severely injured, hospitalized, and lose the capacity to function normally.
A Medical Power of Attorney, on the other hand, is a health care document that designates authorization to loved-ones or family-members to decide on your medical treatment if you become mentally incompetent. Such designation will make the health care provider consult with the designated person to discuss health care decisions or advance-directives.
How long does a Power of Attorney last?
A power of attorney is revocable. As such, a mentally competent individual who decided to create this estate planning document can terminate it at any point in time provided that it was done willfully and of sound mind. But depending on the nature of your power of attorney, it may terminate automatically when you pass away or become left with severe incapacity.
When revoking a power of attorney, you will need to prepare the revocation in writing and have it stamped by the notary-public. The appointed person must also be notified that the PoA is being revoked.
Who can create a Power of Attorney?
Anyone of sound mind can consult an estate planning attorney to create this document. However, you can also draft one for yourself and not on behalf of someone else. No other person can sign a document for you, which is why it is highly recommended that you get a power of attorney as soon as possible while you are in prime health status. If the person you want to have this document already has a condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s, you might want to check our guardianship or conservatorship instead. A power of attorney created by an individual for another is invalid and void.
How Can I Get a Power of Attorney?
Although getting an attorney is not required, there are multiple benefits to having a legal expert draft this document for you. First of all, there are multiple power-of-attorney forms available online, but not all of these may apply to your situation. Worse, they can be written for a specific form of PoA that is not applicable to you. To avoid making these mistakes, get legal help. Consult an estate planning attorney and have them draft the legal documents for you.
Regardless of the type of power of attorney you use, it is important to think carefully about who you will appoint to take care of your assets and your family-member’s inheritance. At Utah Child Custody, we deem it very important that the power of attorney is created with the best plan possible for your needs. Contact us for a free legal consultation!