Powers Of Attorney
What is a power of attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf in private or business affairs, or other legal matters and bind the principal to legal responsibilities. Essentially, a Power of Attorney is used when one needs another person’s presence to execute legal documents. Note, this document alone does not provide the authority to fully manage the affairs and property of the principal, merely it provides the authority to sign legal and other documents. The ability to manage another’s affairs and property is granted through the appointment of a conservator.
A durable Power of Attorney document permits the appointed agent to act on your behalf regarding financial matters should you become disabled or incapacitated. There are several types available in Connecticut. Most notably the “short form” and the “long form”. A “short form” Power of Attorney is a document that grants limited authority to the agent. There are restrictions as to what the agent is permitted to sign. The “long form” Power of Attorney, is similar in many respects to the short form, but includes additional authorities to perform and engage in various estate planning matters. With the long form, your agent will be able to sign documents to take advantage of estate planning, tax planning, special needs planning, Medicaid options, and the like that may be available at that time. These are significant powers and can be very important in some events.
A Power of Attorney is effective when you sign it, meaning the agent could use the Power of Attorney as soon as he or she receives it. The original of the Power of Attorney should be kept with your other legal documents until it is needed. It is prudent to let the agents know where the original Power of Attorney is, but you do not have to give the original or a copy to anyone until it is necessary.
Do I lose control of my money?
Executing a Power of Attorney does not mean that you lose control of your money or assets. While you cannot entirely avoid a dishonest or criminally-minded person from doing so, your agent has a responsibility to act in your best interests. It is therefore very important to choose an honest agent whom you completely trust because he or she does have access to your financial assets.
If you think your agent is abusing the Power of Attorney the absolute first thing you need to do is revoke the Power of Attorney. Then it is critical that you let all of the banks or other financial institutions in which you have money that you have revoked the Power of Attorney and tell them that the agent is no longer authorized to use the Power of Attorney on your behalf.
How do I revoke a Power of Attorney?
The next step is to file a motion in the probate court (by yourself or through an attorney) and get an order that the agent file an accounting to detail every penny he or she spent. demand that the agent you suspect of stealing from you file an accounting showing how the money was spent. Ultimately, if the court finds the agent took your money without your permission, you can sue the agent or possibly press criminal charges.
If you have not given the original or a copy of the Power of Attorney to anyone, you revoke it by simply destroying it. If the Power of Attorney has already been given to the agent, a financial institution like a bank or used to record property an institution, or has already been recorded, you should revoke the Power of Attorney in a written document. You should sign it in front of a notary and two witnesses.
Should I update my Power of Attorney if nothing has changed?
Powers of Attorney executed before 20136 should be updated. In 2016, there was the biggest change in Power of Attorney law in 50 years in Connecticut. These should most definitely be updated. Also, after a period of time, some banks and financial institutions treat older Powers of Attorney as “stale” because of the possibility that the Power of Attorney has been revoked. There are several options to prepare for this. It is a good idea to re-execute your Power of Attorney every five years or so.
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