Using Powers of Attorney as Part of Your Estate Plan (new version) by KulasLawFL


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									  USING POWERS OF
 Understand the Role Powers of Attorney Play
    in Your Estate Plan and Get the Most
   Out of these Vital Estate Planning Tools

               ROBERT J. KULAS
          The right estate plan is one that incorporates all of the tools necessary
          to best protect your estate and meet your desires. Because no two
          people share the same goals or come from the same circumstances,
          estate plans differ widely from person to person. However, they also
          tend to use the same basic instruments, such as powers of attorney.

          A power of attorney is a kind of legal                   ●   ●   ●

          document. Through it, a capable adult can
                                                               The person or
                                                             organization you
          grant another person or organization
                                                               name as your
          decision-making rights. Understanding the
                                                            representative will
          role powers of attorneys play in your estate
                                                             often be referred
          plan is essential if you want to get the most          to as your
          out of these vital tools.                         “attorney-in-fact.”
                                                                   ●   ●   ●

          One of the downsides of power of attorney is that the name itself can
          often lead to confusion. Powers of attorney are documents. They are
          not related to lawyers or attorneys. You don’t have to hire a lawyer to
          create a power of attorney, nor do you have to give your decision-
          making responsibilities to an attorney.

          Even though it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced
          estate planning lawyer if you want to create a power of attorney, there
          is no legal responsibility that you do so. Also, the person or
          organization you name as your representative will often be referred to

Using Powers of Attorney as Part of Your Estate Plan        2
          as your “attorney-in-fact.” However, that title conveys no authority to
          practice law.


          Any power of attorney document you
          choose to create must state some very
          specific information. First, you will state
          your name as the principal. (A principal is
          merely someone who creates the power of
          attorney.) Second, the document will
          include your choice of agent. Your agent,
          or attorney-in-fact, will be able to
          represent your interests. The agent you
          select has to be an adult, but can also be
          an organization, such as a bank. Also, it’s
          usually a good idea to include several alternate agents who can act if
          the first cannot.

          Third, the power of attorney must state the types of decisions your
          agent is allowed to make on your behalf. Fourth, you have to sign the
          document, do so in the presence of two witnesses, and have the
          document notarized.


          Before you can make a power of attorney you have to meet some basic
          requirements. To be a principal you must be an adult who is of sound mind.
          A person of sound mind is capable of making decisions and understanding

Using Powers of Attorney as Part of Your Estate Plan         3
          the consequences those decisions have. Also, no one can force you to create
          a power of attorney. If you want to create these documents, you must do so

          Like principals, agents must also
          be mentally capable adults. You
          can choose anyone you like as
          your attorney-in-fact, but no one
          is obligated to accept your
          appointment. If you make more
          than one power of attorney, you
          can ask more than one person to
          serve as your agent, as well as have more than one person serve as the
          alternate agent for each power of attorney you create.


          You can use a power of attorney to give your agent almost any
          decision-making authority you like. In practice, these powers usually
          boil down to two main types: financial and health care. Financial
          powers of attorney will give your agent the ability to, for example, buy
          property on your behalf.

          Health care powers of attorney, on the other hand, give an agent the
          ability to review your medical records, communicate with your
          doctors, and make decisions about medical procedures when you

Using Powers of Attorney as Part of Your Estate Plan          4

          When you create a power of attorney you choose the types of
                                                   decisions your agent is
                                                   allowed to make. A general
                                                   power of attorney gives your
                                                   agent the authority to make
                                                   almost any decision you can
                                                   make, and are the broadest
                                                   possible powers any principal
                                                   can give to an agent.

                                                   Limited powers, on the other
                                                   hand, impose some
                                                   restrictions on the types of
                                                   decisions the agent can make.
          A limited power of attorney might, for example, give the agent the
          right to only buy or sell specific types of property. A limited power
          might also be restricted by geographic area, subject matter, time, or
          any other limitation a principal chooses to impose.


          One of the most common reasons why people choose to create and
          use powers of attorney is incapacitation. If you are incapacitated you
          will need one or more people to make decisions for you. Powers of
          attorney allow you to do this.

Using Powers of Attorney as Part of Your Estate Plan     5
          Powers of attorney normally terminate if you, the principal, become
          incapacitated. Because powers of attorney delegate of principal’s
          decision-making authority to an agent, that authority ends as soon as
          the principal loses the ability to make decisions.

          However, you can create a durable power of attorney that will give
          your agent the authority to make decisions after you are
          incapacitated. These are especially important if you are preparing for
          possible incapacitation and need people to, for example,
          communicate with your doctors when you are unconscious.


          All powers of attorney cease as soon as the principal dies. Whether
          you create a durable or non-durable power, the agent no longer has
          the authority to make decisions for you as soon as he or she learns of
          your death.

          If you want someone to represent your estate—the property you leave
          behind after you die—you need to include other instruments in your
          estate plan.

          ESTATE PLANS

          As with all estate planning documents, crafting the power of attorney
          that meets your needs is not something most people can do on their
          own. Not only that, but powers of attorney are not something you can
          rely on exclusively if you want to create a comprehensive plan.

Using Powers of Attorney as Part of Your Estate Plan     6
          Though these documents have a specific, and important role in any
          estate plan, they cannot serve all of your needs. Creating powers of
          attorney that work in complement with other specific types of tools is
          the only way to ensure that all your estate planning goals are met.

Using Powers of Attorney as Part of Your Estate Plan     7
          About the Author

                                Robert J Kulas

                                Robert is the founder and principal shareholder in the Port
                                St. Lucie and Vero Beach law offices of Robert J. Kulas,
                                P.A. Because he believes that helping his clients manage
                                their personal affairs wisely is one of the most worthwhile
                                professional activities he can pursue, he has devoted his
                                practice exclusively to estate planning.

                                 Robert has invested considerable time and energy helping
          to educate others in estate planning and is widely regarded as a dynamic speaker
          who can make even the most complex estate planning issues easy to grasp. He
          provides free monthly seminars to inform the public on the importance of proper
          estate planning. Over the past fifteen years, thousands of people have come to
          hear him speak. “Helping people understand their options for estate planning is
          very important to me,” Robert said. “I like to think that people in our community
          can look to me for the kind of quality information they need to decide what is best
          for them and their families.”

          About Robert J. Kulas, P.A. Attorneys at Law
          Robert J. Kulas, P.A. Attorneys at Law is a full service estate planning and wealth
          preservation law firm servicing Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach, Florida.

          The firm is dedicated to providing you with quality estate planning resources, so
          you can become familiar with all of the existing options. When you visit or call the
          office, we want you to feel comfortable discussing such an important issue
          concerning both you and your family. We want to arm you with the information
          you need to make an informed decision about your family's future.

               East Lake Professional Center                    Univest Building
             2100 SE Hillmoor Drive, Suite 105          2770 Indian River Blvd., Suite 321
                 Port St. Lucie, FL 34952                     Vero Beach, FL 32960
                  Phone: (772) 398-0720                      Phone: (772) 778-8481

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