At some point in your life you will likely decide to execute a power of attorney for one reason or another. A power of attorney, or POA, is a very common and seemingly simplistic legal document. Don’t let the apparent simplicity of a POA allow you to make errors when you create yours. Like all legal documents, it is wise to have an attorney draft the document for you to ensure that it is error-free. To highlight the importance of working with an attorney on your POA, consider the following five most common mistakes to avoid in a power of attorney:
- Failing to revoke – not far behind granting too much power is failing to revoke a POA when life events call for the revocation. For example, if you get a divorce, don’t forget to revoke the power of attorney you granted your soon to be ex-spouse.
- Failing to be specific – in a limited, or special, POA it is important to be very specific and detailed regarding the power conferred on the Agent to ensure that the Agent is able to use that authority without problems.
- Failing to name a successor Agent – any number of things could prevent your Agent from being able to fulfill his or her duties. If you did not name a successor Agent the POA becomes worthless.
- Failing to make it durable – traditionally, a power of attorney ended upon the death or incapacity of the Principal (the maker of the POA). Because incapacity is exactly the type of situation in which most people want their POA to be able to be used, the law developed the idea of the durable POA. A durable POA survives the incapacity of the Principal. Some states require very specific language to make a POA durable while others assume a POA is durable unless it states otherwise. If you want your POA to work as an incapacity planning tool, make sure it is durable.
If you have additional questions or concerns about creating a power of attorney or estate planning in general, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.