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Critical aspects of a power of attorney in estate plans

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2019 | Estate Planning

When crafting estate plans in Pennsylvania, there is much to consider. Frequently, people will concentrate on the basics like wills and trusts. However, some individuals can benefit from a power of attorney. Understanding the responsibilities that the agent will have when granted power of attorney is imperative.

There are certain factors to consider when selecting the agent. Once the power of attorney is granted, that individual can make financial decisions. That includes control of bank accounts, assets and more. There also is the choice of a springing power of attorney or durable power of attorney. The former is activated when the person is incapacitated. The latter is in effect once it is signed and continues if the person is incapacitated. A springing power of attorney will require proof the person is incapacitated.

The individual who is granted power of attorney should be a trustworthy person as money and assets can be stolen. Abuse is unfortunately common with a power of attorney as the agent can make changes to accounts and other aspects of estate plans. There can be benefits to having two agents work together with the power of attorney duties. This may be complicated, but it provides protection. An alternate power of attorney is useful if the agent dies first.

Many people make the fundamental mistake of not reading the document. This is essential. When the person dies, the power of attorney will become invalid. Finally, if there is a revocable trust, it must be adequately funded as this can avoid the need for a power of attorney. To be fully aware of the various alternatives in an estate plan and the positives and negatives for each, it could be helpful to have legal guidance. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, estate planning attorneys might be able to help.