Power of Attorney

Power of AttorneyThe power of attorney entrusts an individual, known as the agent, the legal ability to make decisions on the behalf of another individual, known as the principal. The power of attorney alleviates the burden of estate administration, asset management and health care decision-making in the event of incapacity. While the general power of attorney grants the agent complete legal authority over estate and health matters, a specific or limited power of attorney creates a limited authority in decision-making for the agent. The health care power of attorney, for example, would provide narrow legal authority for the agent to make medical care decisions on behalf of the agent in the event of incapacity.

It is important to establish an estate plan that grants the agent enough legal authority to properly provide for the the well-being of the principal’s health and the principal’s estate while still creating enough provisions and limitations to protect individual estate property and assets. The selection of these provisions is further complicated if the estate administration includes the management of business. Our Charleston estate planning attorneys often structure a power of attorney plan that is most properly limited and durable. A durable power of attorney includes the necessary legal language to ensure that the agent has decision-making rights in the event of physical incapacity or mental incompetence. This intention of durability may be communicated in the following manner:

“The power of attorney shall not be be affected by physical disability or mental incompetence of the principal which renders the principal incapable of managing his/her own estate. It is my intent that the authority conferred herein shall be exercisable notwithstanding my physical disability or mental incompetence.”

The power of attorney provides for the protection in estate administration, asset management and healthcare needs.
Planning for incapacity provides for the protection of estate administration, asset management and healthcare needs. It is important for this reason to name a close loved one as the agent to ensure that individual interest are upheld in the event of incapacity. A married couple will often elect one another as their agent should one party become physically incapacitated or mentally incompetent. This decision however exemplifies a common oversight in the event that  both members may become incapacitated. A life-altering accident that has the potential to incapacitate both married persons would thus make the establishment of a power of attorney completely worthless. For this reason, planning for incapacity should always include an alternate successor to serve as the agent in the event that the primary successor is also incapacitated. Single persons who select a parent, sibling or close friend as their agent should also be aware of this possibility and select a secondary successor for safe measures.  Our Charleston estate planning attorneys provide legal representation to individuals, professionals and families to establish a proper power of attorney agreement to make sure that health and estate matters are not risked by incapacity.