UPCOMING EVENTS

SEMINARS FOR SEPTEMBER 2017

MONROEVILLE
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
2:00PM
The Estate Planning Centers
3824 Northern Pike, Suite 801B
One Monroeville Center
Monroeville, PA 15146
Just west of Red Lobster on Rt. 22

MURRYSVLLE / DELMONT
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
7:00 PM
Holiday Inn Express
Delmont/Murrysville
6552 Route 22
Delmont, PA 15626
Behind Lamplighter Restaurant on Rt. 22

MURRYSVLLE / DELMONT
Thursday, September 14, 2017
2:00 PM
Holiday Inn Express
Delmont/Murrysville
6552 Route 22
Delmont, PA 15626
Behind Lamplighter Restaurant on Rt. 22

MONROEVILLE
Thursday, September 14, 2017
7:00 PM
The Estate Planning Centers
3824 Northern Pike, Suite 801B
One Monroeville Center
Monroeville, PA 15146
Just west of Red Lobster on Rt. 22

MONROEVILLE
Saturday, September 16, 2017
9:30 AM
The Estate Planning Centers
3824 Northern Pike, Suite 801B
One Monroeville Center
Monroeville, PA 15146
Just west of Red Lobster on Rt. 22

 
 

 
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Proudly serving clients throughout Allegheny, Westmoreland, Butler, Fayette, and Washington Counties; including Pittsburgh, Monroeville, Greensburg, Latrobe, Cranberry, Wexford, Sewickley and YOUR community.

POWERS OF ATTORNEY: YOUR PARTNER IN PLANNING

One of the most powerful estate planning tools which you may use in your lifetime is the Power of Attorney (POA). A POA lets you designate a person, or people, who have the power to act for you in ways you can limit, under circumstances which you describe. In a nutshell, it lets someone else be legally you for a while when you need them to. It can quickly, efficiently and inexpensively allow someone to handle your affairs when you cannot. It can also, however, be used to embezzle your assets, tarnish your credit, and destroy your financial future. As with most powerful things, it must be carefully considered, designed, and implemented. In the right hands, however, it is a thing of beauty.
 
First, a few terms of art. The term 'power of attorney' can refer to either the document, or the rights and duties within the document. The person granting the power to someone is called the Principal. The person agreeing to act on behalf of the Principal is the Agent (sometimes referred to as the 'attorney-in-fact'). Thus, the Principal uses a Power of Attorney to give a designated Agent the ability to do things for the Principal. You don't need an attorney to be your Agent under a Power of Attorney, but you should consult with an attorney before signing one.
 
Powers of Attorney are most often used for two main types of needs: financial and medical. A financial POA can let an Agent have the power to act for you in only one transaction (such as a POA to permit a Joint Tenant to sign a deed on behalf of the other joint tenant so that all don't have to attend a real estate closing), or the power to broadly handle virtually all of your financial dealings. The terms Limited POA versus General POA are sometimes used to capture the relative breadth of the powers. These titles, however, have no legal meaning, and the terms of the power granted to the Agent will be described in the document itself. A medical POA is typically created to provide the power to someone to make medical decisions when you are unable to. If an accident renders you unconscious, and you need a surgical procedure, someone needs to sign the hospital papers. More pressing, however, may be the cases where disease or injury leaves you in a terminal state, unable to communicate, unable to wake up, and unable to get better. A medical POA can grant someone you choose the ability to tell the doctors what to do when you cannot do so yourself.

Some people question why they need a POA, since they are able to handle their own affairs. The whole point of a POA, however, is that there may be a time when your affairs need handled, and you won't be able to do so. The table below discusses just a few of the circumstances where a POA would prove useful.

If you are... ...and this needs to be done...
Unconscious following an accident A check signed to pay taxes on your house
In a coma Your income tax returns need to be signed
Suffering dementia An annual gift to your children
Incarcerated Sign papers to admit you to long term care
Affected by Alzheimer's Disease Redeem a bond in your safety deposit box
Traveling abroad Sell shares of stock in a troubled sector
On a long cruise Appoint a trustee for your living trust
Chronically depressed Sign your social security or pension check
Aging but still able to manage your affairs Your child wants to declare a Guardian for you against your wishes
Terminally ill, and you deteriorate into persistent unconsciousness Medical decisions must be made about extraordinary steps which might keep you alive but unconscious

 

These are just a few examples, but if you can imagine yourself in any of the conditions on the left, needing to take the steps on the right, then a POA will let your agent handle that for you. A POA is frequently advised for anyone with property or income to manage, and especially if there is any likelihood that health problems in the years ahead may make it difficult for you to handle your own affairs. I discuss the uses of a POA, and incapacity planning generally, more fully in my book, “The Estate Planning Companion; A practical guide to your estate plan”, available online from most major book retailers.