What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document which expressly authorizes another person to manage your financial affairs. In fact, Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 201B creates two different Powers of Attorney:
- “DURABLE” Power of Attorney in which the power is immediately transferred to your “attorney-in-fact” or
- “SPRINGING” or future Power of Attorney that shall come into effect upon your subsequent disability as determined by your physician.
The person who you choose to carry out your wishes is called the “attorney-in-fact”. In many cases, this would be your spouse or another trusted family member or perhaps a close friend. Your attorney-in-fact can pay bills, deposit checks, pay taxes, sell stocks, invest in securities and essentially do all the things that you would normally would do for yourself.
Why use a Power of Attorney?
A Massachusetts Power of Attorney, like your Will, is an important document to possess in any estate plan. While the Will carries out your instructions after your death, the Power of Attorney allows you to carry on your financial affairs when you suffer a physical or mental incapacity. If you find yourself incapacitated, without possessing a properly drafted Power of Attorney, it would be necessary to petition the Probate court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to make decisions on your behalf. This type of process is very expensive and extremely time-consuming. The court may appoint a total stranger to oversee your affairs. Consequently, this type of guardianship proceeding may be extremely expensive and take several months to complete in court. Moreover, these proceedings must be public and can never be held privately.
Estate Planning Attorney Tobin helps clients avoid the frustrating and costly guardianship and conservatorship process by drafting a legally effective Power of Attorney. Moreover, he drafts each Power of Attorney with the potential needs of a retiree in mind, for example, the power to create certain trusts, or the power to gift certain property for MassHealth eligibility purposes.
Contact Attorney Tobin to draft a suitable Power of Attorney or review your existing estate plan documents.