Durable Powers of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint another person, typically a relative, friend, or attorney, to manage your financial affairs. This person is called an agent. Although the document is signed when you are in good physical and mental health, it is often created in preparation of future failing health or mental incompetence.
Having the Durable Power of Attorney prevents a lengthy court proceeding in which the court would appoint an agent, called a conservator, and give permission to this person to engage in certain financial transactions on your behalf.
For Married Couples
A Durable Power of Attorney is an essential document — even for married couples. Even though property in the marriage may be jointly owned, the Durable Power of Attorney serves as a means of asset protection. For example, if your spouse resided in a Massachusetts nursing home, the home may seek to cover patient care expenses by tapping into assets that were not formerly protected, including jointly owned property, like real estate. Because your spouse would be unable to sign over his partial interest in the property due to his physical or mental condition, a Durable Power of Attorney can be used to transfer the real estate on his or her behalf into your name alone. This of course can be done without the involvement of Massachusetts probate courts.
Power of Attorney Restrictions
Ensure your Durable Power of Attorney will work when you need it.
Restrictions can be established in the Durable Power of Attorney to limit your agent’s authority. Additionally, certain powers need to be expressly stated like transfers to a spouse and family. The agent will work according to your instructions to delegate your assets to your loved ones and to fulfill other duties on your behalf.
Duties typically covered by a Durable Power of Attorney
- managing real estate, stocks and bonds, banking, and insurance
- tax matters
- managing retirement benefits
- estate planning
- applying for governmental benefits
- hiring or firing professionals such as accountants, attorneys, and health care managers
Effective Date for Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney typically becomes effective at the time of the signing of the document. It could also become activated at a later time when you are deemed by a doctor to be mentally incapacitated, or no longer able to handle financial matters. This is called “springing”. This method is sometimes avoided due to the setbacks created by third parties, like outside family members, who may not believe you are at the point of having your financial affairs handled by another person. Once enacted, the Durable Power of Attorney can be revoked at any time, so long as you are competent at the time of revocation.
A properly drafted Durable Power of Attorney can bring you peace of mind as you establish your estate plan. It will ensure that your property and the fruits of your labor are left for your friends, family, or even organizations that have a special meaning in your life.
Call Baker Law Group at 781-996-5656 or 800.701.0352 for a complimentary review of your power of attorney to make sure it will work for you when you need it. We have years of experience in estate planning and can ensure your plans for the future are comprehensive and leave your family fully protected.
For more information about planning ahead, read about Estate Planning.