About Powers of Attorney
By placing your initials and signature on a Power of Attorney document, you are indeed giving tremendous power and authority to your Agent(s), who is/are the individual(s) whom you designate to act on your behalf. However, this document can be very useful and even necessary should you lose the capacity to conduct your own affairs.
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What powers can be granted to my Agent(s) using Powers of Attorney?
The Powers granted through a Power of Attorney are broken down into little bits and pieces. Collectively, they allow your Agent(s) to do almost anything you currently do for yourself. Using Powers of Attorney, you can authorize your Agent(s) to engage in various transactions on your behalf, including, but not limited to: real estate, banking, stocks and bonds, and business transactions. However, you cannot authorize your Agent(s) to execute a Will or make health care decisions (Health Care Proxy) for you.
How can I be sure that my agent will act according to my wishes?
There are a series of precautions and checks and balances in place to minimize any potential abuse of this document. Your Agent(s) will be required to sign the Power of Attorney, indicating that they understand the scope of their authority, and that they will abide by the powers and limitations as set forth in the Power of Attorney document. You may also appoint a Monitor to keep an eye on what your Agent(s) is/are doing.
How can a Power of Attorney be used to help protect my assets from nursing home expenses?
In the event you require nursing home care, and are unable to afford private pay rates (approximately $14,000 per month), you may have to apply for Medicaid. In order to qualify for Medicaid, you must first spend down most of your resources. However, even with no prior estate planning, our office can help you preserve about one-half of your assets if you are single, and more if you are married, from nursing home costs using careful planning. If you are incapacitated, Powers of Attorney can be crucial. The Powers of Attorney will allow your Agent(s) to transfer your home to the spouse who is still living in the community and then the home will be fully protected. You may also authorize your Agent(s) to gift your assets to themselves and others. If you choose to do this, your Agent(s) may engage in “Promissory Note Planning” which will allow them to gift approximately half of your assets according to your estate plan, while still preserving enough money to private pay for nursing home care while the Medicaid penalty period runs for these gifts. For every $11,700 (approximately) gifted in the five-year period prior to entering the nursing home, you cannot receive Medicaid for one month.
Once I appoint an agent, can I change my mind?
Yes. Powers of Attorney can be revoked at any time, for any reason.
What if I lose my capacity without having a Power of Attorney document?
If you lose your capacity without having executed a Power of Attorney document, then, in order for someone to have authority to manage your financial affairs, it would likely be necessary that a court appoint a Guardian to take care of these matters for you. If you have a properly drafted Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy in place, the Guardianship would not be needed.
The Witecki Law Office provides the following estate planning services: Wills and Trusts, Asset Protection, Medicaid Planning, Elder Law, Powers of Attorney, Probate and Administration, Guardianships, and Health Care Proxies.