If you are building a comprehensive estate plan, chances are you are discovering the importance of having a power of attorney designation as part of it. A power of attorney agent acts on your behalf if medical, legal or financial matters arise at a time when you are unable to handle them on your own. For example, you may be traveling abroad, undergoing surgery or suffering from health issues that compromise your mental capacity.
The decision to sign over authority for your legal, financial and medical affairs is not an easy one, but having a power of attorney designation in your estate plan can be a tremendous relief to your family at a time of crisis. In fact, you may be thinking that your designated power of attorney can just continue managing the affairs of your estate after you die. If this is your wish, there are some important things you should know.
When does my power of attorney end?
Many in California who are planning their estates do not realize how much control they have over their powers of attorney. In fact, you may be like many who hesitate to execute a power of attorney because you fear losing control of your assets or your decision-making ability. This does not have to be so. With the right information and a strong legal advocate, you can create a power of attorney that has enough limits for your peace of mind without losing its effectiveness.
As for when the authority of your designated power of attorney ceases, that happens upon your death. Your agent may not sell your property, manage your investments or continue to pay your bills once you have died unless you have also named your power of attorney as the executor of your estate. Even if you fail name an executor in a will, your power of attorney must apply to the probate court if he or she wants to continue handling the affairs of your estate after your death.
Understanding your options
Powers of attorney can be complex, and there are countless options for personalizing yours so that it meets your goals and protects your best interests. Unquestionably, there are risks to designating a power of attorney, which is why it is smart to consider carefully who your agent will be and obtain sound legal advice every step along the way.