What Is a Financial POA?
A financial power of attorney ensures that you have a reliable team or individual ready to step in if you are unable to care for yourself or make your own financial decisions. Without a power of attorney, the state of Arkansas will make decisions for you. There’s never a guarantee of your personal health. Being able to have another person stand in or sign financial documents for you might be necessary in the future or just more convenient. For example, you or your spouse may travel. A POA can allow one spouse or a child to act while you are traveling or out of the country.
Tip: We recommend a power of attorney be effective immediately. Why? Many old and outdated powers of attorney require one (1) and even two (2) physicians to declare someone incapacitated before an agent can use the power of attorney. In most cases, this is an unnecessary burden on the family.
The Most Important Document!
As elder law attorneys in Arkansas, we believe your financial power of attorney is likely the most important document in your estate plan. It is essential to know that not all powers of attorney are the same. Some POAs are only one-page documents. Our power of attorney can sometimes reach forty pages.
What’s the difference? One of the key differences between a simple power of attorney and our enhanced power of attorney is the options available to families to protect assets in the event of emergencies. Unfortunately, nearly all powers of attorney, whether drafted by an attorney or completed from online forms, are simple, which can leave a family without options when funds need to be protected.
Why It’s Important to Name an Agent Sooner Rather Than Later
My grandfather once said, “If you live long enough, you’re once a man and twice a child.” He understood that life wasn’t meant to last forever. His untimely stroke was a wake-up call to plan for his incapacity. When individuals do not plan, the only option for families can be an expensive and very difficult guardianship process. With the average guardianship proceeding costing about $3,000 to $5,000, a power of attorney is the best way to avoid unnecessary costs and court appearances.
What is an Agent or Attorney in Fact?
The individual given the right to act or make decisions on your behalf can be called the “Agent” or the “Attorney in Fact.” You can elect to have two agents working jointly (i.e., co-agents) or have two individuals working independently. We recommend naming as many successors as possible. In the case your first alternate agent is unavailable, you have a backup ready to take care of you.
Tip: In our experience, we generally recommend one agent at a time. If you have co-agents (also known as joint agents), we prefer to use the word “or” so that either can serve at a time. Using “and” would require both agents to sign and agree to everything, which creates an unnecessary burden. We would, however, recommend “and” if you need both agents to balance or check each other. It is true that sometimes two heads are better than one.
How Can I Get a Power of Attorney?
A POA is typically included in every estate plan we create. It’s normally signed at our Execution (signing) Meeting.
Are There Different Types of Powers of Attorney?
We usually draft two different power of attorney documents: Financial and Medical/Health Care. In some cases, people have children who are practicing CPAs or medical professionals. It may make sense to have them as a Financial POA and Health Care POA. It’s possible to choose a general power of attorney or special powers of attorney (limited powers of attorney). If you live in White County, Pulaski County, or Saline County, in cities like Benton, Little Rock, and Sherwood, AR, we are happy to recommend the right powers of attorney for your situation.
McClelland Law Firm, P.A. is here to help you and your loved ones understand probate and trust administration, estate planning, Medicaid planning, crisis planning, guardianship, and elder law. Our Benton, Sherwood, and Searcy law offices welcome you to contact us and learn how we can help meet your elder law legal matters in White County, Pulaski County, Saline County, and throughout Arkansas.
At McClelland Law Firm, we believe that limiting our practice areas provides the greatest value to our clients. To us, value means providing exceptional service and efficient processes for each of our practice areas.
We are committed to compassionate representations, especially as it relates to elder law. No one should feel pressured, controlled, or “talked down” to in any meeting. Every client deserves to be heard and understood.