The old adage “You get what you pay for” often applies when talking about legal advice or forms. While the temptation is great to search for legal forms on the internet in an attempt to save money and time, think twice before doing so. People often make the mistake of thinking that a power of attorney form is a relatively simple legal form and that using one found on the internet is harmless. The truth, however, is that a boilerplate power of attorney form can potentially do far more harm than good.
A power of attorney can give the person to whom you wish to give legal authority, referred to as your agent, a considerable amount of control and power over you and your estate. In fact, many power of attorney forms found on the internet give your agent complete control over your estate. In other words, your agent will be able to sell, trade, or transfer any of your assets as well as withdraw funds from your accounts or purchase things in your name. In most cases, this was not what the grantor intended to accomplish with a power of attorney. You can limit the authority granted in a power of attorney; however, it must be drafted with precise language in order to limit the agent’s authority.
Furthermore, if your intention was to give someone the authority to make decisions regarding your medical care if you become incapacitated, most boilerplate power of attorney forms do not provide this authority. Again, a power of attorney can accomplish this goal, but only if drafted correctly. Take the time to consult with your estate planning attorney if you think a power of attorney is something you need to include in your estate plan.
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