Giving someone a Power of Attorney.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone you designate (called an "agent") the right to act for you (called the "principal") as though they were acting for yourself.   It is used to allow someone you designate to make financial decisions and transactions for you.

Why might I need a Power of Attorney?

It can be, however, just as dangerous as it is valuable if you place your trust in the wrong person,  since your agent can act for you with respect to your financial affairs, someone who is untrustworthy could easily steal your assets.

Who can I put as agent for my Power of Attorney?

Anyone who is over the age of 18 can be your attorney-in-fact (old Power of Attorney form) or agent or substitute agents (new Power of Attorney form) in your Power of Attorney document.   Make sure the person(s) you choose is very trustworthy.   If the Power of Attorney is given to someone who betrays your trust, irreparable damage is possible.

How can I limit the power of the agent?

Your Power of Attorney can be limited or broad depending on the types of tranactions you authorize your agent to make for you.   In order to authorize your agent to handle transaction for any of the 14 types of transactions covered in the Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney, or any other transactions you designate, you must initial next to the type of transaction on the form.   If you do not specifically initial next to a type of transaction, your agent will not have authority for those transactions.

How can I cancel my Power of Attorney?

To cancel your Power of Attorney, tell your agent(s) orally or in writing that you no longer want them to act as your agent(s) and that you are revoking your Power of Attorney.   It is always best to follow this up in writing to both your agent(s) and anyone who was given your Power of Attorney (for example, banks, stock brokers, attorney, etc.).

Every time your agent uses the Power of Attorney, he/she is required to complete an Affidavit of Full Force and Effect stating that you are alive and that the Power of Attorney has not been revoked.   If you have notified them that you are revoking the Power of Attorney they cannot sign the affidavit without commiting perjury.

Your agent's Power to Act automatically terminates on your death.

When does my Power of Attorney take effect?

As of September 1, 2009, agents are required to sign the Power of Attorney before it can be deemed to be effective.   Therefore, both the principal and the agents must sign the Power of Attorney before a Notary Public for it to go into effect.

If you signed a Power of Attorney before the new Power of Attorney law took effect on September 1, 2009 it is still valid.   Old Power of Attorney forms signed after September 1, 2009 are not valid.   This can create some confusion where more than one Power of Attorney has been signed.   It may be better in that situation to execute a new Power of Attorney.

What if I become disabled?

The Power of Attorney should be made to survive any disability (called a "Durable Power of Attorney").   In fact, that is one of the main benefits of having a Power of Attorney.   The free Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney is a Durable Power of Attorney and will survive if you become disabled.

Can my agent make medical decisions?

No.  The Power of Attorney strictly relates to financial assets and not health care decisions.   To give someone the authority to make medical decisions for you when you cannot, you should designate a Health Care Proxy

Do I still need a Will if I have a Power of Attorney?

Absolutely, since the Power of Attorney is automatically revoked upon death.