A power of attorney is a legal document by which you (the principal) appoint another person to act as your agent. The agent is a person or institution who has received authorization to act for the principal. In Missouri, the agent is also called the attorney-in-fact. The agent has a fiduciary duty to act for the principal (in the principal’s best interest) within the authority granted in the power of attorney. Any actions or decisions made by the agent are legally binding on the principal. The power of attorney can authorize the agent to perform a single act or a multitude of different acts. A Power of Attorney can last for a specific amount of time or can last until the completion of a certain event or a multitude of events. A Power of Attorney becomes revoked if the principal becomes incapacitated or dies.
What is a "Durable" Power of Attorney?
A Durable Power of Attorney means that the powers of the agent to act on the principal's behalf continues despite the principal's incapacity.
Through a durable power of attorney, an agent can continue to act on the principal’s behalf during the principal’s incapacity. Most Durable Powers of Attorney give your agent broad powers to use your funds to pay your bills and expenses and to take care of all of your financial affairs while you are incapacitated.
The most common type of Durable Power of Attorney is called a “Springing Durable Power of Attorney.” A Springing Durable Power of Attorney is designed so that it does not go into effect until and unless the principal becomes incapacitated. Parents with responsible adult children usually name their children as their agent/attorney-in-fact so that their child or children can act on their behalf and carry on routine financial matters (paying bills, making bank deposits, handling insurance and benefits paperwork, filing income tax returns, etc.) in the event the parent is disabled or incapacitated.
Why Sign a Durable Power of Attorney
Making a Durable Power of Attorney ensures that someone you trust will be available to manage the many practical, financial tasks that will arise if you become incapacitated.
Avoiding Conservatorship or Guardianship Proceedings
If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney and you become incapacitated, your family members or other loved ones will have to petition the Probate Court and ask a judge to appoint someone to manage your financial affairs. In Missouri, the person appointed by the judge to handle your financial affairs is called a conservator.
Conservatorship proceedings can be expensive and can cause hardship for your family members. Your family members and loved one must ask the court to rule that you cannot take care of your own affairs. Court proceedings are matters of public record. In addition, if your family members cannot agree who is to be the conservator, the proceedings will cause even more hardship and disruption within your family.
For all of the reasons mentioned above, you should call your St. Louis, MO Durable Power of Attorney lawyers at The Kaiser Law Firm, P.C. to discuss making a Durable Power of Attorney today!