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Establishing Power of Attorney in Pittsburgh

Help from a Pittsburgh Estate Planning Lawyer

The purpose of a Power of Attorney is to make another individual responsible for your assets when you become disabled or pass away. This person will have authorization to perform tasks on your behalf, such as writing checks, making deposits, choosing investments, and collecting returns. The chosen individual will also be able to sell your house and make legal decisions as your representative. A Power of Attorney also gives your representative or "agent" the ability to perform the tasks you normally would, like running your business or selling a vehicle. The agent is typically a trustworthy member of your immediate family but can also be a close friend. A lawyer from our firm can help you determine who would be the best choice.

Choosing Your Agent

If you are going to create a power of attorney, then you will want to carefully choose a responsible and reliable man or woman to take care of your finances for you. Because you are giving the agent such immense power over your estate, you want to make sure that you can trust their decisions. You also want to make sure that the individual’s decisions are in line with your thinking. If you have a loved one that does not think about finances the same way you do, then you may not want to choose that person as your potential agent. If you are not sure who you think you should choose as your power of attorney, then you may want to ponder these suggestions.

You can always select your spouse to make financial decisions on your behalf. If your spouse is in good health and you trust him or her to handle your finances responsibly, then you should assign that person you power of attorney rights. You can also select a substitute power of attorney, such as a close relative, just in case your spouse becomes incapacitated or passes away. If a spouse is not the suitable option, then you can also choose a close relative to handle your finances. Because your power of attorney agent will need to conduct banking and legal financial transactions, you will want to make sure you chose someone who lives close to you. Therefore, if you chose to appoint a relative make sure that they live within close proximity to your estate.

You can also appoint a trustworthy son or daughter to handle your finances in the future. It is permissible to appoint co-agents in these situations, so if you are not comfortable giving one person the handle of all of your assets you can always have siblings share the job. This can also minimize the sibling rivalry that may occur if you choose one child and not another. Unfortunately, bill installments, stock portfolio changes, and property tax payments are often delayed when there are co-agents because the parties may disagree on how the transactions are supposed to be handled. If you are going to appoint co-agents, then make sure that they get along reasonable well and won’t be bickering. You may want to appoint two agents but only give them control over a specific area. For example, one agent can handle your personal business endeavors while the other can handle personal transactions like the house and the maintenance of the grounds.

Types of Powers of Attorney

There are many options available when choosing a type of Power of Attorney and your choice will be determined by three factors:

  • The level of authorization you want to give your agent
  • When you desire your agent to begin representing you
  • When you desire to dismiss your agent from his/her duties

There are four types of Powers of Attorney and the first one is called Limited Power of Attorney. This is set up to last for a limited amount of time. A General Power of Attorney grants only a general level of authority to your agent in financial, medical, and legal matters. A Durable Power of Attorney document is enacted when you become incapacitated and your agent takes over. The last type is a Springing Power of Attorney which "springs" into effect when you are incapacitated and this incapacitation is clearly defined beforehand.

Within you power of attorney, you have the right to specify the level of authority that you want your agents to have. This will make sure that you do not have one agent handling an area where you know he or she is not capable. For example, you can determine whether or not an agent has the right to file your annual taxes. You can also ask for one individual to hire a trusted professional to deal with some financial matters. If you are going to allow your agent to conduct bank transactions, then make sure that you sign authorization forms and signature cards at each bank so that the agents will not get stopped.

Do you need a Power of Attorney?

Emergencies often occur suddenly and without warning. A Power of Attorney can salvage many situations and assets in the unfortunate case that you are no longer able to carry out those tasks on your own. If you have assets stored up, you don’t want them to go to the first person that the court appoints. Instead, you should take pains to carefully work through the Power of Attorney process so that you can trust that you finances are being taken care of.

A Medical Power of Attorney is a similar document that designates an individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to make such decisions for yourself. This powerful estate planning tool can be set in place by a lawyer from our firm. At Temple & Frayer Law, we can help determine which form of Power of Attorney would best fit your situation. We can assist you in the drawing of the document so that it fits your needs, now and in the future. Hire a Pittsburgh estate planning lawyer at our firm today to prepare for the uncertain future and be at peace that your finances will be taken care of by a trusted individual.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.