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Powers of Attorney in Estate Planning, Part 2

In our last post, we began discussing the subject of powers of attorney and why they might be a useful part of an estate plan. In this post, we will discuss these documents in a little more depth and touch on some of the issues you might consider when drafting these documents.

One of the issues you will want to consider is when the power of attorney should become effective. Generally, you don't need it until you become incapacitated, but by then it is too late. There are generally two options to consider, you can create a durable power of attorney that takes effect when it is drafted and signed, or you can create a power of attorney that only become operational when some event occurs, such as a disability or incapacitation.

The problem with choosing to have a power of attorney become effective based on some condition is that it requires someone to determine if that condition has been met. If your goal is to provide someone with the immediate ability to step in and make decisions, then creating a power of attorney that is immediately effective might be a better choice.

Another of the important issues to consider is who to appoint as your attorney-in-fact. Much like picking the personal representative in your will, you want to choose someone you trust because you are giving this individual a great deal of power. You also want to make sure the person you appoint wants the job, since it can be a lot of work and responsibility.

This is just a very brief overview of what can be a very important estate planning document. If you have questions about creating a power of attorney, or any other estate planning document, you should contact an attorney that can answer your questions and provide you with legal guidance.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Elder Law: trust is important with powers of attorney, Julian Gray and Frank Petrich, 12/26/10

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