Completing a Power of Attorney (POA) form is a very detailed process. However, just because the agent working on your behalf is sometimes known as the Attorney-in-Fact doesn’t mean they have to be a legal expert.
You might be surprised to learn that a lawyer isn’t always necessary to set up a Power of Attorney. You can, in fact, do it yourself if you’re planning a more straightforward document and requirements. However, in some more complex situations, it may be necessary to seek legal advice.
But when is it necessary to call upon a lawyer to complete a Power of Attorney form for you?
To answer that question, this article takes a closer look at what considerations you need to make when designing a POA form. It also explains when a lawyer should be called in to help you appoint a Power of Attorney successfully.
What Type of Power of Attorney Do You Need?
The kind of POA that you need will be a very big influence on whether you should reach out for legal advice. Types of Power of Attorney vary dramatically and can grant many different powers to the agent over the principal’s life such as:
- Managing all or some of their financial affairs before or during a period of incapacitation
- Temporarily completing individual transactions on their behalf
- Attending to medical needs and making healthcare decisions
- Managing their personal and financial assets when incapacitated
Naturally, the more intricate and far-reaching the powers are in the legal document, the more likely it is that you will need a lawyer on hand to help you consider all the discrepancies. This is also the case if the principal’s responsibilities involve the running of businesses, care of dependents, or managing complex financial products.
Can the Principal Fully Agree to Power of Attorney Right Now?
If the appointing individual is actively able to consent to the granting of POA to an agent then the process of creating this legal instrument is much more straightforward. It should be easy enough to build a document fitting this criterion yourself.
However, setting up a Power of Attorney can be trickier if the principal isn’t of sound mind or is physically incapable of demonstrating their consent to this agreement. To do so, guardianship of the individual may need to be appointed, which can be a more complicated process. In this situation, it is best to get some help from a lawyer when drawing up your document.
In fact, some legal instruments such as General Power of Attorney, don’t cover incapacitated individuals at all. If this arises in your case you’ll need a more robust document such as a Medical POA or a Durable Power of Attorney form.
How Many Agents Should There Be?
Normally a principal will only appoint one agent. If this is the situation and they are someone you fully trust to take on the responsibility, then drafting your own legal form shouldn’t prove too difficult. Nevertheless, that is not a hard and fast rule.
There can be two or more agents, depending on the preferences of the appointing individual. If you are appointing more than one Attorney-in-Fact it could be sensible to seek the support of a lawyer just to check over your form before it is signed and formalized.
It will be particularly important to define which agent will be responsible for which of your necessities when creating and filing your Power of Attorney form. Otherwise, conflicts could arise between them when critical decisions about your personal and financial assets and/or medical care arise.
What about Signing the Document?
You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to oversee the signing of your Power of Attorney. However, some states require the signing of this kind of agreement to be notarized.
To do so, you will need to visit a notary public office and sign them in front of an official state notary to get them legalized. You may also need witnesses (although a notary can sometimes perform this duty) who need to be over 18 years of age and sound of mind.
Whilst appointing a Power of Attorney is no small undertaking, there are many situations where you can do it yourself. However, if in doubt, it is wise to seek advice from an attorney at law to review your document before it is signed and put into use.
Remember, LawDistrict can help you craft a POA document that is perfectly suited to your needs and local laws. Simply choose the specific powers you want to add, the dates when it will come into effect, and the number of agents using easy-to-use form completion tools and step-by-step guidance.
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