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Powers of Attorney for Financial – Not so Simple

YES you can find free power of attorney forms on the internet.

YES you can go to stationary stores and find similar forms for very cheap.

YES you can find some attorney who knows nothing about estate planning who can print a form and charge you fifty bucks.

However, will that really solve the dilemmas you will be facing when the document is needed?

A lot of people when planning for their, or other’s, future think a power of attorney for financial affairs will solve all problems.  They think it will enable them to stand in someone else’s shoes (or appoint someone to stand in their shoes) and make all decisions.

It’s not that easy.

First, and foremost, there is a huge difference between medical and financial. There are two completely distinct documents and sometimes more. Today we are focusing on financial matters which actually includes some quasi financial matters as well.

Second, is the reality that a power of attorney for financial affairs has limited duty in our world. Why is this? Well, a proper estate plan usually has a trust. If your assets are in a trust a power of attorney is completely inapplicable to trust assets. You need to make sure your successor trustee documents are in place for that!

Also, most banks and financial institutions do not honor generic powers of attorney. Instead they require a “bank power of attorney.”  This is usually specific to their bank and will include the exact account numbers to be included in the power of attorney authority.

Also, for real estate transactions you need a “specific power of attorney” which mentions the real estate by address and, even better, legal description and APN (assessors parcel number). That way you can record it with the county recorder.

The third major issue is making sure your power of attorney is written to cover the topics you want, is “durable,” goes into effect when you want and appoints a trustworthy person.

Though most people do similar forms there are some differences. In some cases we will limit powers. However, in my experience if a client feels like they want to limit the powers of the person they are appointing I suggest they think about appointing someone else as their power of attorney!

Powers of attorney are not costly documents to have properly prepared but it is important that they are properly prepared, well thought out, and properly executed.

Call or email me to discuss what would work best for YOU!

-John

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