A power of attorney is one of the most commonly used legal documents, particularly in the area of estate planning. As such, there is a very good chance that at some point in your life you will wish to create a power of attorney, or POA. As with all legal documents, the best way to ensure that your POA accomplishes what you intend it to accomplish and is error-free is to have your estate planning attorney draft the document, or at the very least review one you are considering using. Although a POS may appear to be a relatively simple enough document to draft, consider the following mistakes to avoid in a power of attorney:
- Granting too much power – without a doubt, the most common – and most detrimental – mistake when creating a POA is granting too much power to the Agent. A general power of attorney gives your agent virtually limitless power to act on your behalf, meaning your Agent also has access to most of your assets, money, and property. Always use a limited, or special, power of attorney when possible to avoid this mistake.
- Failing to be specific – in a limited, or special, POA it is important to be very specific and detailed regarding the power conferred on the Agent to ensure that the Agent is able to use that authority without problems.
- Failing to name a successor Agent – any number of things could prevent your Agent from being able to fulfill his or her duties. If you did not name a successor Agent the POA becomes worthless.
- Failing to make it durable – a traditional POS terminates upon the death or incapacity of the Principal, precisely when you may want your POA to be used. State laws vary with regard to the durability of a POA. Some states require very specific language to make a POA durable while others assume a POA is durable unless it states otherwise. Make sure you know the law and create the type of POA you intended to create.
- Failing to revoke – right up there with granting too much power is failing to revoke a POA when life events call for the revocation. For example, if you gave your spouse a general POA and you are now planning to divorce you need to revoke the POA unless you want him/her to continue to have authority over your assets after the divorce.
Considering the power granted in a POA it only makes sense to take the time and effort to ensure that yours is drafted correctly. The best way to do that is to contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.