Power of Attorney
An important document to consider, in conjunction with a Living Will and a Will is a Durable Power of Attorney (POA). Needing a power of attorney is almost as certain as death and taxes in everyone's life. Illness, injury, old age, or daily life commitments happen to everyone. It is important to understand what a power of attorney is and how it can assist in taking care of business, even when you can't.
This document allows your spouse (or other trusted person over the age of 18) to manage your financial affairs (as your Attorney-in-Fact) if you are unable to take care of your own financial affairs. A POA may be the proper document for you to execute if you are in a circumstance that warrants such assistance from another person, for example, if you become mentally incapacitated, or leave the country for a period of time, or have a temporary or permanent disability, a terminal illness, or if you are planning a surgical procedure that will leave you incapacitated for an extended period of time during which you would be unable to take care of your financial affairs. Your Attorney-in-Fact may be granted the power to conduct your banking transactions, manage your real estate affairs, handle your business affairs and perform a variety of other financial tasks that you choose.
A POA becomes effective upon its signing and may be revoked at a later date, upon written notice. Then you will need to give a copy of the Revocation to the banks or others so that they know the Power of Attorney is no longer in effect. It is possible to have more than one agent with your Power of Attorney. This situation should be discussed with an attorney.
Trust is a key factor when choosing an agent for your power of attorney. Whether the agent selected is a friend, relative, organization, or attorney, you need someone who will look out for your best interests, respect your wishes, and won't abuse the powers granted to him or her.
It is important for an agent to keep accurate records of all transactions done on your behalf and to provide you with periodic updates to keep you informed. If you are unable to review updates yourself, direct your agent to give an account to a third party. As for legal liability, an agent is held responsible only for intentional misconduct, not for unknowingly doing something wrong. This protection is included in power of attorney documents to encourage people to accept agent responsibilities. Agents are not customarily compensated; most do it for free.
It is important to note that a Power of Attorney becomes null and void after the death of the person who granted it. Many people believe that, as the Attorney-in-Fact, they continue to have the power to administer an estate following the death of a loved one. This simply is not the case, and at that time all responsibilities shift to the executor of the estate.
The information presented here is only meant to offer a brief guide to the law in Connecticut. It is not and should not be construed as legal advice. Your attorney can advise you if this document suits your needs. In any event, executing a Durable Power of Attorney can avoid the delay and necessity of applying to the Probate Court in the event of incapacity. For more information on Connecticut Power of Attorney and your legal rights, contact a Connecticut lawyer at Gryk and Frolich LLC.