At some point in your life you will likely wish to appoint someone as your agent under a power of attorney. You may also be appointed as an agent in someone else’s power of attorney. While you may have a basic understanding of what a power of attorney can accomplish it is best if you have a much more thorough understanding of the authority that can be granted under a power of attorney in St Louis Missouri, the different types of powers of attorney, and the limitations of a power of attorney.
This despite the name, a power of attorney does not actually involve an attorney except in the drafting of the document. There are two participants in a power of attorney. The person who grants the power is known as the “principal”. The person to whom power is granted is known as the “agent”.
The power, or authority, granted in a power of attorney can vary significantly. In a general power of attorney you grant the agent almost unfettered authority over your assets. An agent who has a general power of attorney may typically withdraw funds from your bank account, enter into a contract in your name, or even sell your home. Even a general power of attorney has limits though. For example, an agent cannot revoke your Last Will and Testament or modify a living will even if the agent has general power of attorney. In addition, Missouri requires certain powers to be specifically spelled out even in a general power of attorney. If you want your agent to have the authority to execute, amend, or revoke a trust agreement, you must list that explicitly even if you grant the agent general power of attorney. Because of the broad authority you grant someone under a general power of attorney you should always discuss executing a general power of attorney with your estate planning attorney.
In lieu of a general power of attorney, people often choose to create and execute a limited, or special, power of attorney. As the name implies, a limited power of attorney only grants your agent a limited amount of authority. You decide exactly what authority your agent will have. You may want an adult child to have access to a bank account in the event of an emergency, for example. A limited power of attorney is also frequently used to give someone the authority to sign your name on a title or on closing documents if you plan to be out of town at the time of the closing on a home purchase.
Another important word to understand when discussing powers of attorney in St Louis, Missouri is the word “durable”. When a power of attorney is durable it means that the authority granted to the agent will survive the incapacity or disability of the principal.
As you can see, a power of attorney can be much more complex than most people realize which is why you should always consult with your estate planning attorney before executing one.