Do You Have a Useless Power of Attorney? Avoid Free Legal Documents

Power of Attorney in Avon Ohio

Don't Get Stuck With a Power Of Attorney That Doesn't Work

Understanding Powers of Attorney

Implementing Power of Attorney (POA) documents is an integral part of your estate planning process. All states recognize powers of attorney, but rules and requirements will differ from state to state. The POA document gives one or more individuals the legal authority to act as your agent on your behalf.

Depending on which POA you choose, you may limit the agent's power to a particular activity. This might include things like real estate sales or broader applications.

A power of attorney may give permanent or temporary authority to the agent you appoint. You can set the POA up to invoke immediately. Or, you can have it activate when a future event, such as a physical disability, occurs. The latter is a "springing" power of attorney.

Other types of powers of attorney include limited, durable, and general POAs.

For example, a general POA permits the agent to deal with any matters on your behalf that state law allows. Under such an agreement, the agent may sign checks, handle bank accounts, sell property, manage assets, and file taxes when you are unable. This POA has a wide latitude of authority. Therefore, there needs to be coordination between you and your agent to ensure your best interests are always represented.

The better-known powers of attorney are durable and take effect if you are incapacitated. The word "durable" means the powers will remain intact even when you can no longer manage your affairs. There are two types of durable POAs; one handles financial matters, and the other manages medical affairs, often called a health care directive.

You also may rescind powers of attorney. However, most states will require written notice of revocation to the named individual or entity.

Consider the following scenarios, when free, online powers of attorney don't prove as helpful as you may have hoped.

Financial Power of Attorney

Suppose a business colleague wants you to take care of their business operations. You become responsible for making critical decisions while they are out of the country.

They give you POA by using a free online legal document that promises to contain everything you need to comply with state law. The document seems noticeably concise. You wonder why legal documents need to be so lengthy and expensive in the first place.

When you go to your friend’s bank to transfer funds, the bank denies you access. You discover why: The bank requires different forms and rules for a power of attorney. Your friend had no knowledge of these requirements, and now you won't be able to contact them for several weeks.

When you track them down, they must fill out additional forms with the bank and get them notarized before you attempt any more transactions. The legal document failed.

Health Care or Medical Power of Attorney

You receive a call about a good friend who has suffered a head injury and needs urgent nursing home care. He is looking at long-term care costs between $5,000 and $8,000 a month for rehabilitation. However, you know he lives on a fixed income of only $2,500 a month from Social Security. Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care services, and his income is too high to qualify for assistance from Medicaid.

On top of facing a financial crisis, someone needs to make decisions about the level and cost of care he can afford. Your friend doesn’t have the capacity to make them in his current situation.

You know what he has expressed in the past about specific treatments and efforts to prolong his life. You even witnessed the online form he used for a health care power of attorney.

However, his family members contest the document. Meanwhile, the doctors won’t listen to you without more specific advanced health care directives and a signed HIPAA release form. Another legal document failure.

The Dangers of Free Online Documents

How can online documents be legally approved for use by the public but insufficient when you need to use them? The POA documents that you may have believed would prove helpful in the scenarios above only offered general information for the most basic needs. With so many variables in finances, business, and medical situations, the language is often not specific enough to address the unique problem.

When you get a POA through an estate planning firm, each document contains wording regarding several circumstances and refers to other critical documents, like living wills and trusts. Additional details instruct the person you've chosen to act on your behalf when dealing with decisions regarding banking and medical institutions or personnel. For example, it may permit them to set up another trust, reorganize assets, open and close banking or investment accounts, and require health care professionals to comply with your medical wishes.

Connect With Your Estate Planning Attorney

A free online power of attorney could cost you valuable time, money, and frustration. Many other legal considerations determine how your power of attorney will work.

The best way to establish powers of attorney is to work with an estate planning attorney. At Joseph L. Motta Co. we truly want to help people to have the right estate planning documents and have a positive impact on your family's future. Proper planning ensures that your wishes will be followed and that your family will have less to worry about after you are gone. We can go over common pitfalls and discuss options on how to avoid them. Also, we understand the criteria for identifying the individuals or agents to represent your interests.

When you rely on legal documents to get an important job done or simplify decisions in an emergency, it needs to work as promised. Contact Joseph L. Motta Co. for a free consultation to explain just how simple having a few key documents can be.

A Power Of Attorney That Does What it is Meant to

At Joseph L. Motta, elder law and estate planning firm in Avon Lake, OH, we want to help you leave a legacy, rather than a predicament, when you pass. We understand that it may be tempting to find free legal documents online like a power of attorney. We can help you understand power of attorney and create one that will work for your specific needs: Call 440-930-2826 to schedule a free consultation.

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