What you need to know
What is a durable power of attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney (POA) is a document whereby the principal appoints someone else (known as an agent or attorney-in-fact) to manage his/her money and all other assets. Generally, the power of attorney gives authority over all financial and property matters. It is called "durable" because the POA becomes effective the moment it is signed and notarized (in most states), and remains in effect even if the principal becomes incapacitated and is no longer able to make financial decisions.
Why might you need a durable power of attorney?
A power of attorney lets you decide who would make legal and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. If you own assets or have bank accounts in your name alone and become incapacitated, then you will need someone to manage those accounts and assets for you. If you have a valid durable power of attorney, your attorney in fact can make those decisions for you. If you do not have a durable power of attorney, then your loved ones must petition the court to appoint a conservator for you. This is a time consuming and expensive process. Further, in all likelihood, your loved ones will be dealing with the emotional strain and worry of whatever has caused your incapacity.
Who needs a power of attorney?
Basically, everyone over the age of 18 should have a power of attorney. You never know when an emergency could occur and having a power of attorney prepared enables loved ones to handle your affairs when you are unable to do so on your own.
Who can complete a durable power of attorney?
In most states, you must be 18 years or older and have capacity to understand and make legal decisions. If you are below the minimum age or lack capacity then the Durable Power of Attorney would not be legally binding and it most likely will be up to the courts to decide who can make decisions on your behalf.
When does your power of attorney go into effect?
Your power of attorney becomes immediately effective when it is executed. It remains “durable” if you become incapacitated.
Who to tell about your power of attorney
Once you complete your power of attorney, it’s important that your agent and loved ones know that you have it completed and where it is stored. Fortunately, Gentreo makes it easy to safely store and share your power of attorney and other documents. Never keep a power of attorney in a safe deposit box as this makes it very difficult to retrieve. Instead, keep it safe in your Gentreo Digital Vault.
Can you revoke the durable power of attorney?
Yes as long as you have the capacity to make that decision. The best way to ensure that your capacity is not in question, is to get a statement from your doctor and store it in your Gentreo Digital Vault. If for any reason you change your mind about your durable power of attorney, you can revoke it by executing a new one and/or by revoking it in writing. You can revoke the durable power of attorney by appointing someone else as your attorney in fact. If you want to do that, you must have capacity for the power of attorney to be valid.
Once you have executed a new durable power of attorney, you need to give notice to all persons and financial institutions that had knowledge of the old power of attorney, especially the prior agent/attorney in fact. Review your durable power of attorney regularly to make sure the names, addresses and telephone numbers of your attorney in fact and alternates are current and that your attorney in fact and alternates are still willing and able to serve.
Do I need my power of attorney notarized?
It is recommended to have your power of attorney notarized. In some states this is not required, however many financial institutions, such as banks, often require notarization. When in doubt, have your documents notarized. Most banks will have a notary on staff.