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Why You Need a Power of Attorney

Aug 8, 2008
One of the documents that you should have in your estate plan is a power of attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to explain them to you. Of course, if you know the basic types, then you will be better able to determine how qualified an attorney is to draw up your documents. There are several different kinds of powers of attorney. They include:

General Power of Attorney: This means that you're naming someone to act in your place in the event that you cannot act for yourself. They're called an agent.

Limited Power of Attorney: This just means that you've limited the amount of power your agent has over your affairs. For example, you're only giving your agent access to your bank account, or to only pay your bills, etc.

One example of a limited power of attorney is the Springing Power of Attorney which only becomes effective if you become incapacitated. These are no longer being recommended because of the HIPAA law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) which concludes that your medical records stay private unless written consent is given. If your agent can't get your medical records to prove that you're incapacitated, then he can't act as your agent under the Springing Power of Attorney.

Whether you have a general or a limited power of attorney, make sure there is a clause giving your agent the authority to access your medical records in order to prove your incapacitation, should the need come up.

Another item you need to include is a Durable Power of Attorney. This just means that there is language built into your power of attorney stating that it is still viable even upon your incapacitation. Even if you have a general or a limited power of attorney, always make sure that it is durable. Most powers of attorney become null and void upon incapacitation or death. The durable power of attorney makes sure that it is still valid upon incapacitation.

Make sure that your attorney knows the difference between all the different kinds of powers of attorney before hiring him or her. These provisions must be put in place before one of the situations mentioned occurs. Your ability to take these protective steps is only available now, while you're healthy and in the frame of mind to deal with these issues with foresight. Knowing and reviewing the basic information about the different kinds of powers of attorney can help you make the best informed decision available for your future.
About the Author
Discover the Secrets of Wealth Preservation as expert estate planning attorney, Steven W. Allen, reveals the proven estate protecting strategies that have been used by the wealthy for centuries. Learn more tips and tools to protect your estate from taxes and probate from the man experts call the Living Trust Doctor.
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