According to a 2017 Wills and Estate Planning Study by Caring.com, about 53% of American adults have a power of attorney in place. The power of attorney (POA) a vital part of a person's estate plan. It grants someone of your choosing the legal authority to act on your behalf for legal and financial matters after your death or when you’re physically mentally incapacitated.
If you're starting to think about estate planning or need guidance with choosing a power of attorney, it is crucial to consult with an experienced Washington State estate planning attorney for detailed guidance. Attorney William E. Morgan is dedicated to offering comprehensive legal counsel and advocacy in estate planning matters, including trusts, wills, and powers of attorney. As your legal counsel, he will review your unique situation, enlighten you about your options, and guide you to make informed decisions.
William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law, proudly serves clients throughout Grays Harbor County, Washington, and the surrounding communities of Hoquiam, Montesano, Pacific County, and Aberdeen.
A power of attorney is a legal document in which a person gives broad power and duty to another person to act on their behalf in various affairs, including legal, healthcare, and financial matters. The principal may choose different agents for any of these purposes. Some key provisions of Washington's new Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPAA) are as follows:
In order to be treated as such, a POA must clearly state in the document that it is a "power of attorney."
The POA shall terminate when the principal becomes incapacitated unless the documents contain that:
"This power of attorney shall not be affected by disability of the principal," or
"This power of attorney shall become effective upon the disability of the principal," or
Similar words showing the intent of the principal that the authority conferred shall be exercisable notwithstanding the principal's incapacity.
Unless stated otherwise, a POA shall be treated with immediate effectiveness.
The principal may designate co-agents, and they must exercise their authority jointly.
The agent has a duty to act in accordance with the reasonable expectations of the principal.
Unless exclusively granted by the POA, an agent may not make healthcare decisions for the principal.
The person you designate may be your spouse, advisor, friend, lawyer, or a trusted family member.
Generally, there are four types of powers of attorney, including:
A general power of attorney is often comprehensive. It gives the agent the authority to perform virtually any act as the principal, from managing personal finances to paying bills and opening financial accounts. However, a general power of attorney terminates upon the death of the principal or their sudden incapacitation.
Upon sudden incapacitation, a durable power of attorney allows the agent to act on behalf of the principal. A durable power of attorney eliminates the need for the court to appoint a guardian or conservator when the principal becomes incapacitated. It will terminate upon the principal's death.
A limited power of attorney gives the designee the authority to act on the principal's behalf on certain specific matters. For instance, a limited power of attorney may give the agent the right to sell your home or sign a deed to a property when you're unavailable.
A springing durable power of attorney gives the designee the authority to act on the principal's behalf when certain events occur, such as when you become incapacitated. The agent's authority will only be triggered when the specified event occurs.
In Washington, power of attorney is important due to the following reasons:
It allows you to appoint a trusted person to have the authority to manage your legal and financial affairs on your behalf.
When you have a power of attorney, the court doesn't have to appoint a conservator or guardian.
All transactions and activities conducted by the power of attorney are kept private. Therefore, maintaining your privacy and that of your loved ones.
Family members are able to discuss desires and wishes.
Saves precious time and money when there is a need to perform urgent tasks and decisions.
It helps prevent any potential questions about the principal's intent.
It allows the designee to talk to other agencies to obtain information or provide services to the principal.
It gives peace of mind to every party involved.
When choosing a power of attorney, it is important to consider the following factors:
Your relationship with the person to whom you are giving the power
Is the person trustworthy and reliable?
Does the person know your intent or have your best interests at heart?
Ability and desire to put your needs and wishes first
Does putting a beneficiary of your estate in charge of managing your finances make sense?
The person's problem-solving skills and ability to make informed decisions urgently
The person's willingness to serve
Choosing a power of attorney is not about selecting the person closest to you. Rather, it is about choosing someone who can represent your wishes and best interests when you're unavailable. If you're trying to choose or understand the role of a power of attorney, consulting with a knowledgeable Washington estate planning attorney is important for proper guidance.
Attorney William E. Morgan has devoted his career to providing outstanding legal services and detailed guidance to clients in all legal matters of estate planning. As your legal counsel, he can evaluate your unique situation and help you understand your options. Using his extensive experience, he will guide you through the process and ensure that you choose the right person to represent your wishes and best interests.
In addition, he can assist with the drafting of wills, trusts, special needs planning, advance care directives, and other estate planning documents. Attorney William E. Morgan will work diligently to address your needs and concerns and guide you through every step involved in the estate planning process.
If you are looking to draft a power of attorney, contact William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law, today to schedule a free consultation. William E. Morgan can offer you the experienced legal counsel and advocacy you need and help you navigate key decisions. He is proud to serve clients throughout Grays Harbor County, Hoquiam, Montesano, Pacific County, and Aberdeen, Washington.