Ask the Expert- Powers of Attorney
Today’s question was submitted through Avvo by a resident of Baltimore.
Q: Can you name two sisters as agents under Power of Attorney, so that either one is able to conduct business at various times? We want to share the responsibilities. Our mother is in Maryland, one sister is in New York, and the other is in Virginia. We need to be able to carry out her financial affairs. Also, does Power of Attorney give us medical Power of Attorney as well or do we have to have a separate form for that too?
A: Yes, your mother can sign a General Power of Attorney (POA) naming both you and your sister as Co-Agents to handle her legal and financial affairs. Your mother must also decide whether to force you and your sister to act together or allow you to act independently, and that must be specified in the POA.
A Medical Power of Attorney, also called an Advance Medical Directive (AMD), is a completely separate document.
You mention the term “form” in your question. Neither POAs nor AMDs are “forms.” They are customized legal documents that must be drafted to the particular needs and desires of the individual signing the document. Many “forms” you might obtain off the Internet or from a legal software program are not worth the paper they’re written on.
Please understand that not all POA’s are created equal; it is crucial that this document be prepared by a knowledgeable and experienced Elder Law Attorney, such as the Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. One way to ensure the qualifications of your attorney is to look for one who is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, the only organization accredited by the American Bar Association to certify lawyers in the specialty area of Elder Law.
As a Certified Elder Law Attorney, I believe it is critical that a POA contain certain very specialized “Asset Protection Powers.” Asset Protection Powers written into the POA will be essential in order for your mother’s Agent(s) to protect her assets from the catastrophic expenses of nursing home care should your mother need such care in the future. Attorneys who are not experienced Elder Law Attorneys often fail to put these essential Asset Protection Powers into the POA, and “forms” you might obtain almost always do not include these essential powers.
- Evan H. Farr, CELA
This question was submitted through Avvo by a resident of Gate City, Virginia.
Q. My sister talked me into signing a Power of Attorney and now I must cancel this agreement. How do you cancel a Power of Attorney?
Unfortunately, not all General POAs are the same, and you need be sure to get your power of attorney from an experienced elder law attorney to ensure that your POA contains vitally important asset protection provisions, assuming you have assets. The POA you might get from an estate planning attorney, or a form you might download from the internet or you might buy from an office supply store or create using some home lawyer software program, typically do not contain these important asset protection provisions, and can therefore interfere with the ability to do future asset protection planning for your benefit.
- Evan H. Farr, CELA