The Need for Power of Attorney
The point of the POA. A power of attorney (POA) is a legal instrument that delegates an individual’s legal authority to another person. If an individual is incapacitated, the POA assigns a trusted party to make decisions on his or her behalf.
There are nondurable, springing, and durable powers of attorney. A nondurable power of attorney often comes into play in real estate transactions, or when someone elects to delegate their financial affairs to an assignee during an extended absence. A springing power of attorney “springs” into effect when a specific event occurs (usually an illness or disability affecting an individual). A "durable" power of attorney allows an assignee, or agent, to act on behalf of a second party, or principal, even after the principal is not mentally competent or physically able to make decisions. Once a principal signs, or executes, a durable power of attorney, it may be used immediately, until it is either revoked by the principal or the principal dies. (1)
Keep in mind this article is for informational purposes only. It’s not a replacement for real-life advice. Make sure to consult your legal professional so you can better understand what type of powers of attorney is a best fit for your situation.
What the POA allows in financial terms. Financially, a Power of Attorney is a tremendously useful instrument. An agent can pay bills, write checks, make investment decisions, buy or sell real estate or other hard assets, sign contracts, file taxes, and even arrange the distribution of retirement benefits.
Advanced healthcare directives: HCPOAs and Living Wills. Some illnesses can eventually rob people of the ability to articulate their wishes, and this is a major reason why people opt for a Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) or a living will. There are differences between the two.
Social Security replaces about 40% of income for the average wage earner. (For those at higher income levels, the percentage may be less.) So where will you get the rest of your retirement income? It could come from as many as six sources. (2)
A Health Care Power of Attorney (also called a “healthcare proxy”) allows an agent to make medical decisions for a principal, should they become physically or mentally incapacitated. A living will gives an assignee similar powers of decision, but this advanced directive only applies when someone faces certain death. The assignee has the authority to carry out the wishes of the incapacitated party. (3)
Would you like to learn more? It may be time to meet with an attorney who specializes in these issues. You can find one with the help of an insurance or financial professional who has assisted families with legacy planning.
1 - AgingCare.com, August 23, 2021
This post has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Bob Lawson is not engaged in rendering legal or accounting services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.