Powers of Attorney

Perhaps you’ve heard about the importance of having a power of attorney in Missouri. But, you’re not sure what it is and if you need one. Bolinger Law Firm in St. Louis is here to explain why you should have one. And they are happy to answer your estate planning and power of attorney questions.

All estate plans should contain power of attorney documents. This is because they provide you with substantial protection during your life. Durable Financial Powers of Attorney and Durable Health Care Powers of Attorney are utilized most frequently in different variations.

Missouri Powers of Attorney

There are two powers of attorney that are very important. These are known as "durable financial power of attorney" and "durable health care power of attorney." In this case, "durable" means the document remains in force even if you become incapacitated. Both durable powers of attorney, financial and health care, are extremely important. They allow a trusted person, whom you nominate, to be your “attorney-in-fact.” Then, they can engage in financial transactions and other crucial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. This provides assurance that your affairs will be attended to during the period of your incapacity. The durable power of attorney (abbreviated DPOA) is a key part of your overall estate plan.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

A durable financial power of attorney, also referred to as a “springing” financial power of attorney, creates a principal-agent relationship where you ­− the principal − delegate powers to your designated attorney-in-fact concerning financial matters during your incapacity.

The attorney-in-fact acts on your behalf and legally binds you to matters within the power of attorney document. Powers typically include transactions such as real estate, business, securities, banking, taxes, and governmental interactions.

Additionally, a durable financial power of attorney only provides the nominated attorney-in-fact with the exact powers listed and only during your incapacity. The attorney-in-fact has no authorization nor any financial powers while you are competent.

A durable financial power of attorney can provide peace of mind knowing that your important day-to-day financial affairs will be maintained if you should become incapacitated. Granting power of attorney is a big responsibility. A Bolinger Law Firm attorney will help you create a durable financial power of attorney as we develop your estate plan.

Durable Health Care Power of Attorney

A durable health care power of attorney, like the durable financial power of attorney, creates a principal-agent relationship. As the principal, you delegate powers to your chosen attorney-in-fact pertaining to your health care matters.

The attorney-in-fact acts on your behalf and legally binds you to the matters within the power of attorney document. These usually include making crucial health care decisions like medical treatment, care, and end-of-life wishes. The durable health care power of attorney only provides the agent with the delegated powers during your incapacity. But, it is never while you are competent.

When creating a durable health care power of attorney, it is always important to accompany it with a Living Will. We will help you draw up both as part of your estate plan.

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Do I Need a Durable Power of Attorney Now?

A majority of estate planning deals with the disposition and transfer of property upon your death. However, a durable power of attorney provides direct benefits during your life. Durable powers of attorney provide you with comfort and security. You know that your financial and health care affairs will be tended to if you should ever become incapacitated. Additionally, durable powers of attorney allow for streamlined decision-making. So, your affairs can be conducted without the need for judicial intervention.

What If I Become Incapacitated Without a DPA?

What happens if you do not have a durable power of attorney executed and you become incapacitated? Your family members or other loved ones will have to ask the court to name someone as your guardian or conservator. That court-appointed person will then go through a court proceeding on your behalf. This can be detrimental to your health and your finances.

A judge will name someone to care for your financial and health care affairs through the guardianship and conservatorship proceedings. Since you do not have a say in the proceedings, it is important for you to execute a durable power of attorney. You must do this prior to incapacity so that you are able to nominate the individual whom you can trust. This person has to be competent enough to handle your financial and health care affairs.

A guardianship and conservatorship proceeding be costly, time-consuming, and possibly put the wrong person in charge of your well-being. And, it also becomes a matter of public record. Make it a priority to take care of your durable power of attorney to prevent this.

How Do I Choose My Attorney-in-Fact?

When deciding whom you want to nominate as your attorney-in-fact, there are multiple considerations to account for. You will want to analyze the potential attorney-in-fact’s:

  • trustworthiness
  • organizational aptitude
  • geographical distance
  • ability to understand your financial and health care affairs
  • competence to conduct your affairs according to your wishes

Furthermore, it is important to speak with your potential attorney-in-fact prior to the execution of the documents. You must ensure that your potential attorney-in-fact is willing to accept the responsibilities.

You can also name multiple attorneys-in-fact to act together. However, before deciding on utilizing multiple attorneys-in-fact, you need to consider how they interact with each other. And, you must consider whether it is truly in your best interests. Some potential problems can arise when multiple attorneys-in-fact act together. Decentralized decision-making and disputes regarding the handling of your affairs can arise. This can lead to a delay when decisions need to be made quickly. Therefore, it is important to understand the dynamics of those you choose. You must decide if choosing a group would truly serve your best interests.

What If I Want Someone to Act on My Behalf While I Am Still Competent?

Perhaps you have a transaction where you want another person to act on your behalf while you are competent. Let's say you have a real estate transaction but you are out of the country. A power of attorney (without the “durability” provision) will accomplish this goal. A power of attorney document grants another person the legal power to engage in transactions while you are still competent. The attorney-in-fact’s authority is limited. It may apply to a single transaction. Or, may provide the attorney-in-fact with authority to engage in a series of transactions.

Estate Planning & Powers of Attorney

At Bolinger Law Firm in St. Louis, an estate planning attorney will work closely with you. We will help you develop the Powers of Attorney documents that fit your needs. And, we will assist you with other accompanying documents. These include a will, living will, and trust, that help complete an estate plan.

We are also available to help you review and update existing powers of attorney and estate plans. Additionally, we can draw up transactional powers of attorney for a one-time transaction or a series of transactions.

With our caring, experienced attorneys, you’ll find estate planning less stressful. You will walk away with peace of mind knowing you have a solid plan. And, you will have someone you trust in charge of your finances and health care, should the need arise.

Free Power of Attorney Consultations

Contact us today for a free power of attorney or estate planning consultation or to make changes to an existing estate plan, will, trust, living will, or power of attorney. 636-386-8322