Estate Planning in Missouri FAQ: What is a durable power of attorney?
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you become incapacitated? Who would look after you? How would your medical expenses and bills be paid? As uncomfortable as this subject might be, you should think about creating a plan that addresses such an important issue. Included in this plan should be a durable power of attorney. A lawyer who practices estate planning in Missouri can help you with this and ensure that everything is legally binding.
What is a durable power of attorney?
A durable power of attorney, also known as a financial power of attorney, is a cost effective and reliable way to arrange for another person to manage your finances should you be unable to make decisions for yourself. It’s a vital aspect of estate planning in Missouri for most people.
This document can be useful for you and a blessing for your loved ones. Without a durable power of attorney there is a good chance that a court proceeding will ensue and require your spouse, adult children, or close relatives to ask the court for permission to handle some or all of your financial matters. Charles J. Moore of Legacy Law Center can provide you with more information about how this can be part of your estate planning in Missouri.
When A Durable Power of Attorney Takes Effect
Once your lawyer who offers estate planning in Missouri drafts the document and you sign it, it will go into immediate effect. If you don't want this, you can specify that it only goes into effect once a doctor certifies your incapacitation. This is known as a springing durable power of attorney. The downside to the latter option is that it can cause delays and problems for your relatives, lawyer, doctors, and agent.
The Agent's Role in a Durable Power of Attorney
When you draft and sign a durable power of attorney, you will give another person legal permission to make financial decisions on your behalf. In Missouri, this person is typically referred to as the agent. You can give your agent as much or as little power as you feel comfortable with. The following are examples of what you can ask your agent to do:
- Buy, sell, maintain, and pay taxes on real estate, a mortgage, or properties
- Use assets to cover the costs of everyday expenditures
- Collect government benefits (i.e. Social Security)
- Invest your money into mutual funds, stocks, etc.
- Handle financial transactions with banks
- File and pay taxes
- Operate a business
- Hire a lawyer to represent you for estate planning or other legal services that you need
- Claim an inheritance
- Buy and sell insurance policies
- Manage any of your financial accounts
It will be up to the agent to act in a responsible manner while keeping your best interests in mind. They will also need to maintain records and keep their own assets completely separated.
Creating a Durable Power of Attorney
Every state has its own rules when it comes to creating a power of attorney. An estate planning lawyer in Missouri can help you to complete the forms. You can also do this on your own, but you will want to make sure everything is completely accurate. Some financial institutions will ask you to fill out their own form. You might also need to have this signed and witnessed by a notary.
The Cessation of a Durable Power of Attorney
Unless you have stated otherwise, your durable power of attorney will come to an end upon your death. Your agent will not have the authority to handle anything after you pass away; this is a separate issue that should be addressed in a will or trust as part of your estate planning in Missouri. A durable power of attorney might also end when you revoke it, get a divorce, a court finds it invalid, or your named agent is not available.
Do you need help creating a durable power of attorney or other estate planning in Missouri document? Call Legacy Law Center to talk with a skilled estate planning lawyer.
The Legacy Law Center enjoys helping clients plan their estates. We understand that our clients are not attorneys and so we have two specific goals to accomplish for our estate planning clients.
First, we want to make sure we understand the specific estate planning needs of our clients and recommend and implement the proper plan.
Second, we want to make sure our clients understand their estate plan. This may sound obvious. However, many people have an estate plan but don't know what it includes or who they have provided for in it.
The Legacy Law Center not only explains estate planning concepts in a non-legal way, but provides clients with an Estate Planning Summary which explains provisions in simple terms. Our estate planning process is designed to be simple and effective.
Prior to the initial meeting with Legacy Law Center, we will send you a questionnaire for you to complete. This will ask for information about you and your family, information about the assets of you and your spouse, if you are married, and the names of fiduciaries whom you would like to appoint for various roles in your estate plan.
At the initial meeting we will explain the estate planning process and go over your circumstances, finances and goals.
Typically by the end of the meeting clients come to a conclusion as to the desired structure of their estate plan. The documents may include a Will (or a Pourover Will where a Revocable Trust will also be used), a Revocable Trust, a Financial Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Directive and any other documents a client may specifically need for their estate plan.
Following the initial meeting, Legacy Law Center will send you drafts of the documents which the client requested be prepared. Clients review them, along with a helpful Estate Planning Summary and contact your attorney with any particular questions, or changes. At the next meeting, your attorney will review the documents in detail with you and if they are acceptable to you, they will be signed at the meeting.
You will be provided with the originals of the documents as well as a copy of each of the documents. You may want to provide a copy of the documents to a family member, or at least let the family member know where the copy and the and the originals are located.
After the completion and signing of your documents, we suggest that clients review them every three to five years and and contact your attorney to discuss whether any changes should be made.