WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY?
A Power of Attorney allows a person, chosen by you, to act on your behalf if you become sick, hospitalized and/or incapacitated. The appointed person becomes your “agent” or “attorney in fact”. A financial power of attorney can allow your agent to make decisions about your financial affairs including depositing and withdrawing money from your bank account to pay your bills and buy essential items. It can also allow your agent to purchase real estate, change or access your life insurance, control your investments, pay your taxes, and access your digital assets (email, Facebook, Instagram, etc.).
WHO SHOULD I CHOOSE, WHO CAN I TRUST?
You should choose someone you trust because your agent will have very broad powers to make decisions on your behalf. You should also consider adding language to your Power of Attorney stating that it will only be effective if/when one or two doctors declare that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Most people appoint their spouse to be their agent or attorney in fact, others choose their parents, child or a sibling. Make sure the person you pick is responsible and can be trusted with your finances. Remember, they will essentially step into your shoes and become you. This means that they will be able to access your finances, retirement income, life insurance and buy and sell real estate on your behalf. Pick someone who you know will have your best interests in mind.
WHY DO I NEED A POWER OF ATTORNEY?
People assume that their spouse, parents or children will be able to access their accounts or transact business on their behalf if they get sick, go into the hospital or become incapacitated. This is not true. For instance, in the State of Maryland, if you become incapacitated, your spouse or other family member will be required to apply for guardianship in the Circuit Court in order to access your accounts or transact business on your behalf. The Court will appoint an Attorney to act as your guardian while the case is pending and your family member will also need an attorney to represent them as well, all at your expense. A Power of Attorney can eliminate the need for guardianship proceedings which often drag on for 6-9 months.
Speak with an attorney today about creating a Power of Attorney. Griffin Selby Law PLLC is an agile, virtual law practice with offices in DC and MD. We consult with clients via phone, Zoom Video and Google Meetup. We also offer electronic signature and payment options. Click here to schedule a consultation.