A power of attorney is one of the most commonly used legal tools, due in large part to the numerous and varied uses for a power of attorney for property, or POA for P. Unfortunately, people often make the mistake of assuming that just because a POA for P is a common document that a generic fill-in-the-blank form found online or at a local stationary store is sufficient. Nothing could be farther from the truth though. So what is a good power of attorney? As is the case with all legal documents, you should consult with your estate planning attorney to ensure that the POA for P you create is tailored to meet your specific needs; however, learning some power of attorney basics certainly may help you feel better informed.
A power of attorney for property is a legal arrangement in which the Principal (you) grant and Agent (the person you wish to give authority to) the legal authority to act on your behalf. A POA for P can be general or specific. With a general POA for P your agent has almost unlimited power and may do things such as sell assets, withdraw funds from a financial account, and even enter into contracts in your name. A limited, or special, power of attorney only gives your Agent the authority that is specifically enumerated in the POA for P document.
Some things to consider when creating a power of attorney that should help ensure that your POA for P is valid and accomplishes what you want it to include:
- Don’t grant more authority than is necessary. Never create a general POA for P when a limited POA will suffice.
- Choose your Agent wisely. Your Agent will effectively become you when using the authority granted in the POA for P. Make sure you appoint someone you trust and who has the skills, experience, and knowledge to act appropriately on your behalf.
- Appoint a successor Agent. If your POA for P is intended to remain active for any length of time be sure to appoint at least one successor Agent in the event your original Agent becomes ill, dies, or is otherwise unable to act as your Agent.
- Make it durable – or not. A traditional POA for P terminates upon the death or incapacity of the Principal, precisely when you may want yours to work. Making your POA for P durable means the authority granted to the Agent will survive your incapacity.
- Understand the limits. Even a general POA for P has limits that vary by state. Make sure you know what your Agent can, and cannot do, with your power of attorney for property.
- Know the law. Although a POA for P is a common legal document, it is still a legal document. There is no adequate substitute for the quality legal advice an attorney can give you and ultimately he success of any legal document depends on how well the creator of the document understands the law.
If you have additional questions or concerns about creating and/or executing a power of attorney for property, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 or 800-644-5345 to schedule your appointment today.
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