A general power of attorney lets your agent or attorney-in-fact perform your legal activities, and a durable power of attorney is effective even when you are incapacitated or unable to act. A durable general power of attorney gives an agent more powers than you have: the power to do anything you can while active, and the power to do anything he wants in case of your incapacity. Invoking a durable general power of attorney can be useful if you want your child or spouse to take care of your affairs.
Discuss a durable general power of attorney with your relatives and give the issue careful thought and consideration. Make sure you have the approval and acceptance of the agent or attorney-in-fact you intend to appoint. Seek approval of your spouse and children so the agent does not meet with opposition.
Search an online source such as Internet Legal Research Group (see Resources) to locate appropriate forms for the state you live in, or seek the assistance of an estate or probate attorney. Copy a form or several forms into a Word or WordPerfect document so you can combine the sentences you want, fill in the blanks and consider every delegated duty you are signing over to the agent. Go over any questions with your attorney and let her finalize the document for you. She may have insights you have not considered.
Sign the forms before appropriate witnesses and a notary. The agent cannot be a witness; nor can your relatives in most states. Affirm that the contents of the power of attorney are your intent. Some attorneys suggest videotaping estate documents of this significance.
Give a copy of the durable general power of attorney to the agent you designate, and also to your bank, your stockbroker, your children, spouse, and other close relatives.
- Once the signing has taken place, the power of attorney authorizes the agent to act for you immediately and the document is invoked. If the court appoints a guardian for your estate, the agent you have appointed must answer to the guardian under the law of most states. If your spouse is the agent and you get divorced, the power of attorney terminates on the date of divorce in many states. You can also revoke the power of attorney, but some agents continue to act, claiming no knowledge of the revocation. You may live with the consequences of this kind of power of attorney to the grave. In most states, the durable general power of attorney terminates at death.
- Hand and document at the meeting image by Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from Fotolia.com