by: Neil L. Wojtal
A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances and Property allows you to appoint an agent who will make financial decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances and Property in place and you become incapacitated, your family may have to ask a court to appoint a guardian for you. This can be a time consuming and expensive process. Your family must hire an attorney who will arrange for a court hearing and a doctor would have to provide evidence that you are incapacitated.
Some people believe that they do not need a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances and Property if they do not own a large amount of assets. However, without one there are specific legal actions that cannot be accomplished without specific legal authority such as applying for work related disability or income continuation benefits such as Social Security; accessing or changing retirement plans; filing insurance claims or appealing denials; signing tax forms; selling a house or contracting for health care services.
This Power of Attorney can be effective immediately upon signing or it can be a "springing power", i. e. effective only after a doctor declares you incapacitated. Even if you elect to have the Power of Attorney effective immediately, as long as you are competent, you will be able to handle your own affairs. Your agent will only be able to act if you are not able to do so. Once the Power of Attorney is activated, the agent's authority does not end until you die. At that point, your Will takes effect and the personal representative named in your Will has the authority to act on your behalf to wrap up your affairs and distribute your assets pursuant to your wishes. Note that the agent under the Power of Attorney and the personal representative under your Will can be the same person. The statutory form for a Power of Attorney for Finances and Property is located in the Wisconsin State Statutes, Section 244.61. Note that an appendix must be attached to the POA which lists the definitions of the various powers as contained in Sections 244.44 through 244.56.
(Next posting Part 3 -Wills)
This blog is designed for general information purposes only and should not be construed to be formal legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your own situation. Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and utility of the information contained in this blog, no warranty is made, express or implied, and Zimmerman & Steber Legal Group, LLC assumes no liability in connection with any use or result from use of the information contained herein.