Hello, my name is John Potter. I’m an estate planning and elder law attorney in Charlotte, NC. Today we’re going to talk about different types of property powers of attorney. For a variety of reasons, we have times when we need someone else to manage our affairs – whether we’re incapacitated due to illness or injury or just temporarily unable to handle certain decisions or actions.
How Does a General Power of Attorney Work?
With any power of attorney, you create a document that names another person to serve as your attorney-in-fact. The power of attorney document gives that person the power to act on your behalf in financial matters. A power of attorney can be limited or general, and it can be springing or immediate.
Limited Power of Attorney
A limited power of attorney gives the attorney-in-fact the power to do a few discrete things. Often these documents are used to allow someone to sell property for you or sign other types of documents when you’re not available to do it yourself. Limited powers of attorney usually have a sunset provision so the power ends after a short period of time.
General Power of Attorney
A general power of attorney, on the other hand, is broader and typically intended to give the attorney-in-fact the authority to do almost anything that you can do in your own name. The attorney-in-fact can sign documents, pay bills, cash checks, and buy or sell property in your name. This power can be limited by specific provisions in the document and always expires when you die.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing power of attorney gives your attorney-in-fact authority to act only if you are incapacitated. It can help you avoid the need for a conservator, or guardian over your estate, if you no longer have the ability to manage your own affairs. A springing power of attorney only comes into effect after you have been declared incapacitated (usually by a doctor), and then only lasts until your death.
Durable Power of Attorney
Like the springing power of attorney, an immediate durable power of attorney usually gives an attorney-in-fact broad authority to act on your behalf, though the power can be limited as well. Unlike the springing power, however, the immediate power of attorney goes into effect when it is created. Unless you revoke the power of attorney, this durable power remains in effect if you become incapacitated and lasts until you die.
What Your Power of Attorney Can Do for You
The type of power of attorney you need depends on the powers you might need your attorney-in-fact to exercise. With a good general power of attorney, your designated agent could buy and sell real estate on your behalf, manage existing properties for you, handle financial accounts, and write checks.
The agent can make decisions about investments, apply for government benefits, handle taxes, and sign contracts on your behalf.
What You Cannot Do with a General Power of Attorney
While the powers granted under a general power of attorney are usually very broad, your agent cannot use a power of attorney to vote for you, change your will, or do something you specifically prohibit in your power of attorney document.
Do you need a general or limited power of attorney? Springing or immediate?
To find out more about what power of attorney is most appropriate for you, have a talk with an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney.
Join us for a FREE seminar today! If you have questions regarding a general power of attorney or any other estate planning needs, please contact the experienced attorneys at The Potter Law Firm for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (704) 944-3245 (Charlotte, NC), (606) 324-5516 (Ashland, KY) or (859) 372-6655 (Florence, KY).