What to Know about Creating a Power of Attorney in Washington, DC
When discussing your estate planning needs, one important document to consider is a power of attorney. This form gives someone else the legal authority to act on your behalf. He or she can make important decisions regarding your financial affairs, medical care, your business, and even other personal aspects about your life in the event you are unable to handle these decisions personally.
Some people feel concerned or intimidated by the idea of relinquishing that kind of control to someone else. This is why utilizing a skilled Washington, DC estate planning attorney is so important. The right estate attorney can make you feel more at ease, walk you through all the facets of a power of attorney, and answer any questions you may have.
Choosing a Power of Attorney
The first, and one of the most important, details is deciding who will be your power of attorney? This is an important decision that has potential to upset and alienate some relative in certain situations. It’s important to choose your power of attorney wisely and ensure it is someone who you know well and completely trust.
What Duties can a Power of Attorney Have?
The power of attorney document should be very clear as to what duties and powers you want to give to the other person. These powers can be narrow or very broad. Some duties that many power of attorney documents include are:
- Managing your business
- Cashing checks and investing money
- Buy or sell items on your behalf
- Apply for important benefits like Medicare or Social Security
- Sue on your behalf and/or collect any debts
It’s important to note that you cannot grant some powers to an agent. These will include the authority or power to alter a will or vote in a public election.
Some powers are not required to be listed on the form, while others need to be specifically mentioned or they won’t apply. These include:
- Power to change community property agreements
- Power to convert your money into gifts
- Power to gift your money
- Power to gift property
What is a Durable Power of Attorney?
Most general power of attorney powers terminate when the person becomes mentally incapacitated. If you want this individual to handle your affairs after you become mentally incapacitated, you need to durable power of attorney. You can decide whether this only takes effect when you are unable to act for yourself, or is effective immediately.
Why Do You Need a Washington, DC Power of Attorney Lawyer?
Some people assume that because you can find power of attorney information and forms online, there may not be a need for an estate planning attorney. Appointing someone else who can make life or death decisions on your behalf should warrant enough concern to speak with a qualified attorney. The team at Tobin O’Connor & Ewing has decades of experience with estate planning and power of attorney appointments. Contact our office at 202-362-5900 to schedule a consultation.