Estate planning is never going to be on the top of your list. There are few other tasks as easy, however, that will easily, effectively, and inexpensively help your loved ones. Having an active (and updated!) Power of Attorney is critical for your estate plan. And here is a secret. They are often effortless and economical to obtain.
What is a Power of Attorney?
In its most basic terms, the Power of Attorney outlines a chosen representative – called the attorney-in-fact – to make decisions or to act on your behalf when certain criteria are met. Powers of Attorney may be limited – perhaps you need your spouse or friend to sign papers on your behalf while you are out of town – or they can be general. Most typically in estate planning, general durable powers of attorney are crafted with the help of an estate planning attorney to ensure your representative can make decisions and take action on your behalf well into the future for a wide array of areas.
How does the Power of Attorney work?
Easy. When the criteria outlined in the document is met, the document becomes active and allows the representative to take the appropriate actions. For a limited agreement, this might just be set for a period. In other words, “My best friend John Doe shall be able to sign all documents related to the sale of my home for 60-days after the execution of this Power of Attorney.”
For general Powers of Attorney, the documents are either effective immediately (durable) or effective later (springing). A durable Power of Attorney is recommended for married couples or those who are elderly who trust each other or who might need help at any given time. A springing Power of Attorney is often used in younger couples or when assigning representatives who are friends. Once the criteria have been met, the attorney-in-fact may present the signed document to the bank, title company, or in the event the Power of Attorney includes medical directives, a hospital or doctor’s office, and they can then take action in line with the agreement.
What does it take to get a Power of Attorney?
Most often, Powers of Attorney are obtained with the help of an estate planning attorney. Typically, in preparation for a full estate plan – including amongst other documents the Last Will and Testament, Advanced Healthcare Directives, and Community Property Agreements – the Power of Attorney is also drafted. Chapter 11.125 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) outline issues related to Powers of Attorney. Once drafted, the agreement must be signed and dated by the principal and either acknowledged by a notary public or attested by two or more unbiased, competent witnesses.
At the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, P.S. we are dedicated to helping you understands your rights and responsibilities regarding your estate planning. Our experienced team of attorneys and staff are sensitive to these delicate topics and are willing to answer your questions to make sure you put in place a plan that is just right for you. We can often have a full estate plan finalized in a week or less. Call today for a free consultation! 425-800-0572