Powers of Attorney grant another person the right to sign on your behalf under particular circumstances. This can include a General Durable Power of Attorney used for many purposes, including for financial and business matters. This type of Power of Attorney allows someone to make decisions and sign financial documents for another person, either immediately or upon a determination that they have become incapacitated, depending on how the document is prepared. Because anyone can become incapacitated at any time, granting someone the ability to sign contracts and gain access to your money is an essential part of your overall estate planning.
The most talked about Power of Attorney is the one used for Healthcare, including Advance Healthcare Directives. There have been some high-profile cases where a person was in a coma and family members were engaged in a legal battle concerning whether to “pull the plug” or maintain long-term life-sustaining medical procedures. Making the decisions now about what you want and who you would like to appoint on your behalf can help to avoid the problems others have faced in those situations.
There are also special limited Powers of Attorney utilized for selling a house or for other business matters when someone will be out of town. These limited appointments usually either allow signature as to a specific transaction itself or place a restriction on the timeframe the Power of Attorney will be effective.
Effectiveness of Powers of Attorney.
You cannot generally use a Power of Attorney after a person is deceased. The only exception would be with regard to certain limited clauses contained in the document which specifically state that they are to be effective after death, such as the clause related to the disposition of the remains. Once a person has passed away, their Will or Trust would need to be administered unless an asset was owned jointly with another person. The Power of Attorney may not be used in order to distribute their assets after death.
What does it mean to be “durable”?
A Power of Attorney should be “durable” which means that it will be valid even after a person is determined to be incompetent or unable to be located. In Missouri, to be considered durable, the Power of Attorney must state something equivalent to: “THIS IS A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY AND THE AUTHORITY OF MY ATTORNEY IN FACT SHALL NOT TERMINATE ON MY BECOMING DISABLED OR INCAPACITATED OR IN THE EVENT OF LATER UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHETHER I AM DEAD OR ALIVE.”