Power of Attorney
The Importance of a Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is one of the most important legal documents a person can have. Without a comprehensive power of attorney, many people are neither able to handle their loved ones financial matters nor make health care decisions without seeking court intervention (Guardianship and/or Conservatorship). We often have clients come into our office assuming that, just because their assets are titled jointly with their spouse, parent or partner, they are able to liquidate accounts to pay bills, hire attorneys, sell their jointly titled real estate, etc. Unfortunately, that isn’t that case.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document where one person (the principal) authorizes another (the agent) to act on their behalf. There are financial powers of attorney which allow your agent to make decisions regarding your property and healthcare powers of attorney which allow your agent to make decisions regarding your health care needs.
Your power of attorney can be broad in scope, giving your agent the ability to make any and all financial and personal decisions for you (a General Power of Attorney) or you can limit your agents authority by specifying the types of decisions you would like them to make on your behalf (a Limited Power of Attorney).
You also have a choice whether you would like your agent to have the ability to make decisions both now and if you become incompetent (a Durable Power of Attorney) or your agent can be limited to make decisions only when you become incompetent (a Springing Power of Attorney).
Why Should I Create a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a relatively low cost and private way to decide which family member or trusted friend will have the legal authority to carry out your wishes if you can no longer speak or act for yourself. If you do not have a power or attorney or if your power of attorney is not drafted properly, and something happens that results in your inability to make decisions, your family/friends may later face court proceedings and court supervised Guardianship and/or Conservatorship. A court proceeding is not only costly, but the person appointed as you Guardian/Conservator may not be the person whom you would have chosen yourself. And, as stated above, not having a properly drafted power of attorney could significantly limit financial and/or Medicaid planning that could be done on behalf of the principal.
From within Utah County and Salt Lake County, our law firm represents estate planning and elder law clients from Alpine, Highland, Lehi, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Sandy, Draper, Herriman, South Jordan, Pleasant Grove, Salt Lake City, Lindon, Provo, Orem, Spanish Fork, Payson, Santaquin, and Springville. The Utah Law Firm of Platt Law, P.C. focuses on Utah estate planning, wills, trusts, estates, probate administration, asset protection, Medical Assistance planning, Medicaid planning & eligibility, Veterans Benefits planning, VA Aid and Attendance planning, elder law, business succession planning, family limited partnerships, real estate and transactional law. With years of experience, attorney RobRoy Platt is an experienced estate planning attorney, trust attorney, probate attorney, asset protection attorney, Medicaid attorney, Veterans Benfits attorney, and elder law attorney. Melissa Platt is an experienced business succession attorney, trust attorney, estate planning attorney, and real estate attorney.