Attorney in Fact. Do you have that title for a loved one? Bradley J. Frigon, Member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, gave a recent presentation on this subject to the Certified Senior Advisors.
Powers of Attorney are specific documents that give authority to an agent to act in the best interests of a principal. Often the agent is a child, a spouse or other relative. Perhaps you fill that role.
1. Why is the word “durable” so important in a Power of Attorney document? That word gives
the Power of Attorney continued effectiveness after the principal loses capacity. The document endures.
2. What are the two categories of Powers of Attorney? Financial Power of Attorney and Medical (Health Care) Power of Attorney. Their spheres of responsibility are different, but the main role is the same: to act in the best interests of the principal, whether managing finances or making decisions about health care.
3. Are Power of Attorney documents standard throughout the country? Not entirely. However, since 2010, well over 30 states have signed the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. in an effort toward standardization. Most states have variations on their individual documents, and notarizing requirements so Frigon advises that when someone moves to a different state, they take the current documents to a lawyer to make any needed changes.
4. What are Springing and Standing Powers of Attorney? These refer to when the documents take effect. A Springing Power of Attorney takes effect after a certain event, often when a licensed physician or physicians determine that the principal is incapacitated. A Standing Power of Attorney takes effect as soon as it is signed by the principal. It gives the agent immediate authority.
5. Who can be the agent? This is the most important role. He or she must be 21 years old and someone whom the principal trusts. The principal must ask permission of the person he or she wants to fill the agent role. It’s important to name a successor. Frigon advises to limit the number of agents to avoid confusion and conflict.
6. Anything new in this field? We are used to agents managing financial portfolios, real estate, etc. But what about Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, emails and photographs electronically generated? Some states have provisions in their Power of Attorney documents which include this information.