By: Terry Bennett
When most people consider estate planning, they usually think about what will happen after their death. Unfortunately, many underestimate the need to prepare for their risk of disability. While a will does not take effect until death, a General Durable Power of Attorney protects an individual’s financial, legal and business matters in case a person is declared incompetent. Our team at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey wants you to be as prepared as possible when planning for your future. Here is some information you may want to consider.
Q- What is a Power of Attorney?
A- Put simply, a Power of Attorney (POA) is a written document in which one person appoints another person to act as an agent on his or her behalf. This can be a trusted friend or family member and can be more than one person.
Q- What will my POA control?
A- The notarized document gives powers to your Attorney-in-Fact or “Agent” that may be as broad or narrow as you wish, and may include financial and dispositional authority over matters such as: safe deposit boxes, real property, personal property, financial accounts, U.S. Treasury Bonds, monies due to you, claims against you, legal proceedings and tax returns.
Q- Why do I need a POA?
A- Without a POA, a guardian cannot be appointed until a Court, following a jury trial, declares an individual incompetent. Then guardianship proceedings are expensive, lengthy and public. An already established POA for business and financial matters can avoid a court-appointed guardianship and the exhaustive proceedings.
Q- When does a POA become effective?
A- A POA and becomes effective immediately after you sign it. However, unless you are found to be incompetent or disabled, you will still have the right to make all decisions for yourself, regardless of the appointment of an Agent to act on your behalf. The POA remains in effect until 1) it is formally revoked by you in writing to your Agent; 2) termination by your guardian after court approval; or 3) upon your death.
Q- Who can I appoint to be my POA?
A- With certain exceptions, you may appoint almost any adult to act as your Attorney-in-Fact. You should choose a person whom you trust and who is knowledgeable about your wishes, values and religious beliefs. You should discuss the appointment with the person(s) you have chosen to serve as your Agent to make sure they understand and agree to accept the responsibility.
Terry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.
A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.