The Basics of a Financial Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is the next best thing to a magic wand. Within a
power of attorney, you authorize a trusted loved one to make decisions
on your behalf. A financial power of attorney authorizes your agent to
make financial and personal business decisions.
If you’re age 18 or older, you need an up-to-date, comprehensive
financial power of attorney. Your document might be called a
“general durable” power of attorney; it’s the same thing.
When you execute a financial power of attorney, you are referred
to as the “principal.”
The trusted helper you name to help you is called an “agent.”
Always ask permission from your potential agent before naming
him. During that conversation, explain the duties of a financial
Always name back-up agents as well, in case your chosen agent is
unwilling or unable to serve.
Important characteristics of an effective financial agent include
love for you; confidence in communicating with professional
advisors such as your estate planning attorney, CPA, and financial
advisor; good record keeping skills; attention to detail, and
comfort with financial matters.
Your financial power of attorney may be effective when you are
incapacitated or immediately upon your signing; most financial
powers of are effective immediately so there are no hurdles to
using the document to help you.
A power of attorney is only effective when you’re alive; if you die,
your agent no longer has authority to act under the power of
Examples of agent duties include paying bills, managing
investments, filing taxes, and following the instructions in your
power of attorney. If you have a trust, your agent and your
successor trustee should be the same person.
If you or your loved ones don’t have an up-to-date, legally valid
financial power of attorney, consult with a qualified estate planning
Experienced estate planning attorneys Seattle WA of the Byrd Garrett
PLLC offers estate planning and business planning resources to
residents of Seattle WA. To learn more about these free resources,
please visit http://www.byrdgarrett.com today.