A financial power of attorney can be a crucial component in your estate planning process. It enables you to designate someone to manage your financial affairs if you become unable to do so yourself. In this comprehensive guide, we'll discuss the importance of having a financial power of attorney and how an experienced attorney can help you navigate the process.
If you need assistance in preparing a financial power of attorney, Heritage Law Office is here to help. Our knowledgeable attorneys can review your needs and provide an outline of your best options. Contact us online or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation today.
Why You Need a Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney is a legal document that grants authority to a person you trust, known as your agent, to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. This can include paying bills, managing investments, or even selling property on your behalf. Having a financial power of attorney is essential to ensure that your financial affairs are in order during difficult times.
Advantages of a Financial Power of Attorney
- Control: You can choose the person who will manage your finances, ensuring that your affairs are handled by someone you trust.
- Flexibility: You can customize the scope of authority granted to your agent, allowing them to manage specific aspects of your financial life or granting them broader powers.
- Avoidance of Conservatorship: A financial power of attorney can prevent the need for a court-appointed conservator, which can be a time-consuming and costly process.
Choosing the Right Agent for Your Financial Power of Attorney
Selecting the right person to act as your agent is a critical decision. Your agent should be someone you trust implicitly, who understands your financial goals and has the ability to manage your assets responsibly.
Qualities to Look for in an Agent
- Trustworthiness: Your agent should be honest and reliable, as they will have access to your financial information and decision-making authority.
- Financial Knowledge: It's helpful if your agent has experience managing finances, either their own or someone else's.
- Availability: Your agent should be available and willing to take on the responsibilities of managing your financial affairs.
Legal Requirements for a Financial Power of Attorney
There are specific legal requirements that must be met when creating a financial power of attorney. These include:
- Age: The principal (person granting the power) must be at least 18 years old.
- Capacity: The principal must be of sound mind, understanding the nature and consequences of their actions.
- Signature: The document must be signed by the principal or another person at the principal's direction.
- Witnesses: The document must be signed by two adult witnesses, who cannot be the agent or a relative of the agent.
- Notarization: Although not required, it is recommended to have the document notarized to increase its validity.
Revoking or Changing a Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney can be revoked or changed at any time, as long as the principal is still mentally competent. To revoke or modify a financial power of attorney, it is essential to follow specific steps:
- Notification: Notify your agent and any financial institutions where the power of attorney has been used.
- Written Revocation: Create a written revocation or modification document, specifying the changes or stating that the power of attorney is revoked.
- Signature and Witnesses: Sign and date the document, and have it witnessed by two adult witnesses who are not related to the agent.
Contact an Experienced Financial Power of Attorney Lawyer
If you are considering establishing a financial power of attorney or need assistance with an existing one, the experienced attorneys at Heritage Law Office can help. Our team is well-versed in requirements and can guide you through the process to ensure your financial future is secure. To discuss your options and receive personalized advice, contact our knowledgeable attorneys by using the online form or calling us directly at 414-253-8500.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is a Financial Power of Attorney?
A financial power of attorney is a legal document that empowers an individual, known as an agent, to manage the financial affairs of another person (the principal) if the latter becomes incapacitated. This authority can extend to tasks such as paying bills, managing investments, or even selling property on behalf of the principal.
2. Why do I need a Financial Power of Attorney?
A financial power of attorney is essential for ensuring your financial affairs are handled responsibly should you become unable to manage them yourself. It allows you to choose a trusted individual to handle these affairs, and it can prevent the need for a court-appointed conservator, a process which can be time-consuming and costly.
3. What are the qualities I should look for in an agent for my Financial Power of Attorney?
When choosing an agent for your financial power of attorney, you should consider their trustworthiness, financial knowledge, and availability. They should be someone you trust implicitly, someone who understands your financial goals, and someone who can responsibly manage your assets.
4. What are the legal requirements for creating a Financial Power of Attorney?
Creating a financial power of attorney has specific legal requirements: the principal must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind; the document must be signed by the principal or by someone at their direction; and it must be witnessed by two adults who cannot be the agent or related to the agent. Although not required, it's recommended that the document be notarized for added validity.
5. Can I revoke or change my Financial Power of Attorney?
Yes, a financial power of attorney can be revoked or changed at any time, as long as the principal remains mentally competent. The principal needs to notify the agent and any relevant financial institutions, create a written document specifying the changes or revocation, sign and date the document, and have it witnessed by two unrelated adults.