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 CANCELLED DUE TO CONFLICT

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 
 CANCELLED DUE TO CONFLICT

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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Important Changes to PA Power of Attorney Statute

Note: Our clients who have already executed a Power of Attorney with us do not need to revise it, despite the new statute. Anyone who hasn’t put a strong Power of Attorney in place already is encouraged to get one which is compliant with the new law.

Background

A Power of Attorney document is used to give another person, your “Agent”, the power to make financial, contractual and property transactions for you. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an opinion which undermined the authority of an Agent acting for someone under the authority of a Power of Attorney document. Some banks and other institutions became reluctant to follow the orders of the designated Agent. In July of 2014, the PA legislature finally passed a law to fix the Power of Attorney Act, and restore the power of such Agents.

Changes in the Law

In the course of fixing the law, certain requirements were added, with many becoming effective on January 1, 2015.  The language required for certain parts of a Power of Attorney were changed, in particular the language of the Notice at the beginning, and the language which the Agent is required to acknowledge before acting. The rules for signing a Power of Attorney were also changed, and now require a Notary, and two witnesses who aren’t already named in the Power of Attorney, in order to confirm that the person really knew what they were signing.

The law also added some requirements to how an Agent act, which mostly conform to what people would expect (but not necessarily be entitled to.)  The Agent must (1) act in accordance with the principal’s reasonable expectations to the extent actually known by the agent, and otherwise in the principal’s best interests; (2) act in good faith; and (3) act only within the scope of authority granted in the Power of Attorney.  Unless altered by the terms of the Power of Attorney itself, the Agent must continue to keep your money separate from theirs (unless they are already mixed together), keep records of the transactions, and attempt to preserve your known estate planning goals.

Importantly, the new law makes it clear that institutions must honor your Power of Attorney if it is proper. They can’t claim it is too old to be good, or that they don’t know if it is still in effect or not, unless they have a good faith reason to believe the Agent is acting beyond the scope of their power. The law includes protection for institutions who permit an Agent to exercise authority under the Power of Attorney, so that the institution won’t be held liable for following the instructions of your Agent. Finally, the law makes it clear that a copy can be used, without having to always produce the original version, let alone having to give the institution an original version to keep.

There is a lot more detail in the statute, but most people have no reason, let alone desire, to read it. The new law is Act 95 of 2014, enacted July 2, 2014. Suffice it to say that a good, strong Power of Attorney remains one of the keystones of prudent planning for almost every adult. A good Power of Attorney executed prior to January 1, 2015 will continue to remain valid even after the changes, so I know my clients’ planning documents remain fine. If you are someone who doesn’t have a Power of Attorney, or has a very old one or some generic form version, you should use this opportunity to have your planning circumstances reviewed closely by an attorney well trained in estate planning issues.