A power of attorney is a powerful legal document. The principal, the person signing the power of attorney, names an agent to act on his or her behalf if no longer able to do so. There are different types of power of attorney forms with different purposes. Powers or attorney also cover different time frames, with some taking effect immediately, or just covering a limited time period, or a specific event. When signing a power of attorney, it’s important to know whether it’s a springing power of attorney or an immediate durable power of attorney.
Springing Power of Attorney.
This type of power of attorney “springs” into action if you become incapacitated for some reason.
People may use a springing power of attorney because they don’t feel comfortable signing a power of attorney that becomes effective immediately. Maybe they don’t trust their agents, or perhaps they want to remain in control for as long as possible. Military personnel sometimes sign a springing power of attorney when they are deployed.
There are some problems with a power of attorney that becomes effective upon incapacity. The most important issue is how to determine whether you are truly incapacitated or not. If you use a springing power of attorney, at least one doctor will have to examine you to determine capacity, or the ability to make decisions. While the determination is being made, your agent will be powerless. All of this can be time consuming and the delays can cause problems.
Durable Power of Attorney.
When a principal signs a power of attorney document, it becomes effective immediately unless the document itself states a future effective date or a triggering event. A power of attorney that is durable remains in effect even if the principal becomes in capacitated.
An agent named in a durable power of attorney is authorized to make decisions when the power of attorney is signed, unless stated otherwise in the document. If the principal becomes incapacitated, the agent can immediately begin to act without a determination from a doctor.
Learn More About Powers of Attorney.
Maybe you have an older parent facing elder law issues. Maybe you are looking ahead to your own future. Either way, it’s important to know what rights and protections are available for senior citizens. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys and find out where you stand. Our phone number is 256-251-2137, or you may want to use the Contact Form on our website. We’re have office in in Anniston and Birmingham and assist clients in communities like Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Irondale, and Calera.