A Trustworthy Person Standing in Your Shoes Right Now

Michael was having a wonderful time in Florida while he waited for his Alabama house to close. Unfortunately, he took a bad fall and ended up in a Florida hospital. He had his Alabama power of attorney, but the problem was that it was a springing power of attorney. The powers were only effective if Michael lost capacity. Michael’s capacity was fine, it’s just that he wasn’t in Alabama when an offer on the house came through.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone else to stand in your shoes.  It allows them to speak and act on your behalf. A document that is effective immediately – even if you’re perfectly capable of managing your own affairs at the time – is the better choice in most cases. Michael should have designated an Alabama agent with immediate powers.  The document should be comprehensive enough to authorize the agent to conduct real-estate transactions on Michael’s behalf.

A document like Michael’s, however, that “springs” into life only on incapacity, would not serve him as he needed. And even if Michael had lost capacity, a doctor would still have to certify that he could no longer make his own decisions. This would cause delay and uncertainty, when swift action was required instead.

Get a Trustworthy Person to be Your POA

Many are concerned that if they have a power of attorney that is immediately effective, their agent will abuse privileges that aren’t even needed at the time. This is a sign, however, that they don’t trust that person. And after all, it’s better to be alert and aware if such a thing should happen, instead of discovering the problem only when you’ve lost capacity and it’s too late.  Making sure to name a trustworthy person to serve as power of attorney is often better that using a spring power of attorney.

An experienced attorney can help you find your way through many such pitfalls. Please give us a call at 256 251-2137 to learn how we can help. You can also learn more about powers of attorney and other estate planning documents by getting a free copy of our book – The Basics of Estate Planning in Alabama by at www.AlabamaEstatePlanningGuide.com.