What is a “Durable Power of Attorney”, and What Authority Does It Grant? 

HNWEstate Planning

power_of_attorneyA “Power of Attorney” is a written legal document that legally permits a person to make decisions and act for another person.  We call the person who is authorized to act as the “agent”.  Any competent adult can be an agent.  The Power of Attorney defines what the agent can and cannot do.

Depending on your family’s needs, a Power of Attorney can be very broad or it can be very narrow.  If you want your Power of Attorney to be used if you are not capable of making a decision for yourself, the document needs to include a paragraph that says the document will remain in effect even if you are incapacitated.  This makes it a “Durable” Power of Attorney.    Some people choose to have a document written that allows their agent to act, but only after the person becomes disabled or incapacitated.  This is a “Durable” Power of Attorney as well.

Sometimes, problems arise after someone has signed a Power of Attorney. The most common problem is when the Agent and the person who made the Power of Attorney disagree. This can happen when the agent insists that the person who gave the Power of Attorney must go to live in a Nursing Home because their health is failing, or wants them to make a financial decision or plan, and the person who owns the money disagrees.  So what do you do?

It is important to understand that an Agent has to abide by the wishes of the person who made the power of attorney, even if they no longer have full capacity, as long as those wishes are not inherently harmful to the person who made the document.

If your Agent is giving instructions or not acting in accordance with your requests, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., to discuss your options.  He can be reached toll-free at (855) 376-5291 by email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing or telephone consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

Written by Nicole C. Tomlin, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright

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