Powers of Attorney

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney (“POA”) is a legal document in which a person, called the “principal,” gives authority to an agent to act for the principal.  Once executed, the power of attorney is recorded with the register of deeds in the county in which the client resides.

What does a power of attorney cost?

A power of attorney cost $200.00 plus recording fees to be paid to the register of deeds.

What is a POA used for?

There are two common POAs, the one for financial matters, (sometimes called a “General” or “Financial Power of Attorney”) and the one for health care decisions (usually referred to as a “Health Care Power of Attorney”). The Financial Power of Attorney allows you to name someone to pay bills and handle business or property transactions for you. The Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to name some one to make health care decisions if you are unable to do so for yourself.

What powers and obligations does the agent have?

The agent has the powers listed in the POA, as well as additional powers that are implied by law. An agent also has duties, which may or may not be spelled out in the document. If an agent acts under a POA, the agent must act according to the principal’s wishes or according to what the principal would have wanted. If the agent doesn’t know what the principal wants, then the agent must act in the principal’s best interest. The agent’s responsibility is to the principal, not the principal’s family. The agent may not act to benefit herself or others, except as specifically authorized in the POA. Sometimes a Financial Power of Attorney has a power that allows the agent to make gifts of the principal’s property. It is wise to consult with a knowledgeable attorney prior to making gifts because there may be federal or state gift tax issues and/or penalties imposed on the principal for Medicaid eligibility purposes.

When is a POA effective?

A POA is effective immediately when it is signed unless stated otherwise in the POA. For example, a Health Care Power of Attorney may take effect only when a doctor determines that the principal is unable to make or communicate his medical decisions. A Financial Power of Attorney is in effect only while the principal is alive and competent unless it is “springing,” which means it does not become effective until the maker is determined to be incapable of making financial decisions, or the POA states that it is “durable” and survives the incapacity of the principal. Most POAs are “durable” so that the POA can be used when the principal is not capable of making his or her own decisions. If the principal dies or revokes the POA, the POA is terminated.

How Do I Find an Attorney?

Please call us at (828) 452-2220 and schedule an in-person consultation or a consultation over the phone to discuss your case.  You may also contact us by clicking here and someone from our office will contact you within 24 hours to schedule an appointment.