How To Setup A Power Of Attorney

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A power of attorney is an important legal document that you will need for a comprehensive estate plan. This legal instrument gives a third-party the legal authority to make certain types of decisions on your behalf in the case you’re incapacitated for one reason or another. How much authority you give can range from broad, pertaining to any matters allowed by relevant law, to being limited to certain matters, such as financial or medical decisions.

The following are different ways that you can go about setting up a power of attorney to make sure you are taken care of if needed.

Do it yourself

In theory it is possible to set up a power of attorney yourself without the help of a legal professional. There are power of attorney document templates that you can purchase online. You may have to customize the templates to fit your situation.

Make sure to fully research relevant laws to ensure that the terms laid out in your power of attorney document are legally enforceable in your state.

Hire an attorney

Of course, it is usually a better idea to find a legal professional to handle such a complex and consequential legal instrument. Finding an estate planning attorney who has the experience and knowledge to guide you through the process can be valuable.

Your financial advisor will probably be able to help you find the right attorney for your needs. In fact, a professional financial advisor can also help integrate the power of attorney with the rest of your estate plan and personal financial plan.

Notary public

Many state laws will require that the signing of your power of attorney document be witnessed by a notary public. Some states may even require witness signatures to be also notarized.

Limits on the power of attorney

There are some essential decisions that you legally cannot delegate via a power of attorney. One of these is the authority to create, alter or revoke a will. Also, you cannot delegate authority

to form a marriage contract in most states. Voting is also something you cannot delegate through power of attorney, however, your chosen power of attorney may be allowed to request a ballot for you.

Make it in writing

Although there are some jurisdictions that allow a verbal power of attorney, it is not a reliable way to ensure legal enforceability. Having a written power of attorney document can eliminate confusion and conflicts.

Record the document

It is usually a good idea to record the power of attorney document with the county government. Although it is not always required, having a record that the power of attorney document exists can ensure your affairs are taken care of in the way you wish.

Filing with the court

Some state laws require that you file the power of attorney with your local court or relevant governmental office before the document is considered legally enforceable.

Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily Raymond James. Any information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation.