Powers of Attorney Basics

massachusetts-elder-law-power-of-attorneyA power of attorney is a document that gives a designated person known as an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” authority to act on behalf of another person (principal) with respect to specific assets, financial and legal decisions. A power of attorney can be limited in scope or broad in scope. If it is broad in scope it is known as a general power of attorney. The power of attorney should contain the language to keep it in effect while the principal is incapacitated, but should be prepared while the person is still competent. Each power of attorney must conform to the laws of the state. It is best prepared by an elder law attorney or estate planning lawyer with experience in elder law. In a power of attorney, a Massachusettes elder law attorney should identify the desired persons to have authority to act on behalf of the principal. The document should detail powers related to long-term care planning and government benefits like Medicaid and veteran’s benefits. The document should also be tailored to specific kinds of assets owned by the principal.

Your estate planning lawyer will help you decide whether your unique situation requires an immediate or a springing power of attorney, which means it is triggered by the incapacity of the principal. Keep all powers of attorney in an accessible but relatively secure location that the agent can access when needed. A copy and/or the original should be kept on file in the office of your elder lawyer. The power of attorney automatically terminates on the death of the principal.

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