POWERS OF ATTORNEY
A power of attorney is a document by which you appoint a person to act as your agent. An agent is one who has authorization to act for another person. The person who appoints the agent is the principal; the agent is also called the attorney-in-fact.
Powers of attorney are vital components of any estate plan.
If you have appointed an agent by a power of attorney, acts of the agent within the authority spelled out in the power of attorney are legally binding on you, just as though you performed the acts yourself.
The power of attorney can authorize the attorney-in-act to perform a single act or a multitude of acts repeatedly.
The agent appointed by power of attorney may be any adult, but is often a close relative, lawyer or other trusted individual. The person appointed does not have tobe a resident of the state of Missouri.
Through a durable power of attorney, an agent may continue to act on your behalf even after you have had a stroke or other incapacitating illness or accident. If the power of attorney so provides, the agent can use your funds to pay your bills, can contract for nursing home services for your benefit and can make basic health care decisions for you.
An aging parent may wish to give a durable power of attorney to a responsible adult child so that the child can act on the parent’s behalf and carry on routine matters in the event the parent is disabled or incapacitated. In many instances, this arrangement is far better than making the child the joint owner of the parent’s bank accounts and other property and assets.
It is possible to create a durable power of attorney so that it will only go into effect when the principal is incapacitated or when some other stipulated event or condition occurs. This is ordinarily called a springing durable power of attorney.
Also, a durable power of attorney may be revoked by the principal at any time, either orally or in writing.
An effective durable power of attorney, and especially a springing durable power of attorney, needs to be very carefully worded and you should seek the assistance of a Missouri lawyer who practices in this area. Furthermore, you should use great care in the selection of your attorney-in-fact. Remember, you are trusting not only your property, but perhaps your life, to the person you appoint.