A question I often get is, “if I sign this power of attorney, and I give this person the authority to write checks on my behalf and do things with my finances, does that mean I no longer have control over my own checking account?” Some people fear that signing a power of attorney is the same as relinquishing control over their money and how they spend their money. They also fear someone taking their checkbook away and the agent dictating how their money will be spent. No one wants that! For those who fear this, you will be relieved to know that signing a power of attorney does not relinquish control. You keep your checkbook and you can keep spending your money as you wish.

You Maintain Control

A power of attorney grants someone else the authority to act on your behalf with your finances, make medical decisions, and handle your legal and business affairs. The authority can be used if you are unable to do so yourself or choose not to do those things yourself. It does not mean you are giving up complete and total control over everything. You maintain control over those things until a doctor or court says that you can’t.

Don’t Fear Signing a Power of Attorney

Don’t fear that if you sign that power of attorney, you are relinquishing control or can no longer act on your own behalf. The only thing you have to fear is making sure that the person you name as the agent is trustworthy, is reliable and dependable, and who has your best interest at heart. If you’re not confident in the person you are naming as agent, or you want more protections, you can do a “springing” power of attorney. This power of attorney is effective only upon a written declaration by a doctor that you are incompetent or incapacitated. This requires a few extra hoops for someone to jump through before they are able to exercise the authority given by the power of attorney.

Get a Power of Attorney Now

If you do not have a power of attorney, you need to do it now. It is such an incredibly important document for you to have because it allows others to transact business on your behalf. We don’t know what may happen the next day, week, or month. We don’t know if we’ll be in a terrible accident, have some unforeseen event happen that will land us in the hospital, or, if we’re older, may need a hospital or nursing home stay.  

At the time you actually need the power of attorney, it may be too late. When someone needs a power of attorney, that is, when they are incompetent or incapacitate, but never got around to doing it, a loved one will need to file for conservatorship and guardianship. This path is expensive, requires court action, and is burdensome. You don’t want to put your family through this.

Call to Action

If you don’t have a power of attorney, contact Huntsville Estate Planning Lawyer, LLC, and I’d be glad to work with you on getting that prepared.

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