Powers of attorney are key components of any estate plan. These legal documents allow you to designate a trusted person to make financial and health care decisions for you. A power of attorney is used if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself. If you do not yet have a power of attorney, the sooner you remedy the situation, the better. Contact a Denver power of attorney lawyer at Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd. to discuss legal assistance and all your estate planning matters with powers of attorney and all your estate planning matters.
A power of attorney is a legal document that grants legal rights and powers by a person (principal) to another person (agent or attorney-in-fact) to make decisions on behalf of the principal. The agent makes decisions based upon the principal’s preference pursuant to the authority granted in the power of attorney. The agent may not override the principal.
At the law firm of Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd., we do more than draft these important legal documents for clients in the south Denver metro area and throughout Colorado. We also explain the decision-making process that should go into your designation of a power of attorney. You can designate one person to make health care decisions for you and another person to make financial decisions.
Everyone over the age of 18 should be capable of managing his or her own affairs. Regrettably, accidents and illnesses can render any one of us incapable of being able to do so. This could be temporary or long-term. Powers of Attorney are the way you designate WHO will be your ‘back-up” decision-maker and the tool by which your chosen “back-up” can make decisions for you when necessary.
With a durable power of attorney, an agent can make decisions even if the principal becomes incapacitated. In Colorado, powers of attorney executed after January 1, 2010, are durable unless the document states that it is terminated by the incapacity of the principal. Powers of attorney signed before January 1, 2010, must contain language stating that the power of attorney will not be affected by the disability of the principal to be durable.
If an accident or illness should leave you incapacitated, your designated agent can step in immediately to make decisions on your behalf without going through expensive, time-consuming guardianship or conservatorship proceedings in court. Preparing a durable power of attorney in advance allows you to decide who will be making decisions for you and saves your family stress and expense.
The document directs how and when a power of attorney takes effect. The two primary ways in which this occurs are:
Springing power and standing power can be blended in a single power of attorney. For example, the principal may direct that if his or her spouse is acting as an agent, the power of attorney is standing; but if the spouse is unable to act, the successor agent’s power is springing.
As long as you are not incapacitated, you can revoke a power of attorney at any time. The only thing required to accomplish this is to send a letter to your agent notifying him or her that the appointment has been revoked. A copy of this letter should be sent to any person or institution that received notice of the original power of attorneys, such as your doctor or your bank. This step is necessary because individuals and institutions may continue to rely on the power of attorney without notice that it has been revoked.
A Power of Attorney is like a vaccine, you need to have it before you need it. Regrettably, many times people come to an attorney AFTER a problem has occurred:
You may assume that another family member, especially a spouse or a parent, can just step into the incapacitated person’s shoes and make decisions. However, banks, nursing homes, and institutions think differently. Without a valid power of attorney, your family may well need to go through costly and time-consuming legal proceedings to obtain guardianship or conservatorship of the incapacitated person.
A power of attorney is something that should be done before it is too late. Once you are incapacitated, you lack the legal capacity to create this designation. Powers of Attorneys are like vaccines, you need to have them before you need them.
Learn about living wills for end-of-life decisions.
Call Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd. at (303) 713-9147 & speak with a Denver estate planning lawyer specializing in powers of attorney. You may also fill out the contact form on this website to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout the southwest and southeast Metro Area, including (but not limited to) people in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Parker, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Englewood, Centennial, Wheat Ridge, Golden and Arvada.
John Phillips has now gone to JR Phillips & Assoc. PC. Justin Blow, Denise Husa, and Lexus Bohan are now with Colorado Estate Matters and can be reached below.