A Power of Attorney is an extremely powerful document that must be drafted with great care and which should only be entered into after great consideration. A Power of Attorney grants another individual (the Agent) the power (or ability) to handle and represent all of the matters and affairs of the Grantor.
The matters which this power may include are: the ability to sign and cash checks, to open or close savings, checking or other financial accounts, to name or change the beneficiaries of life insurance policies, to enter into or terminate contracts, to buy and/or sell real estate, and so on. Typically, the Agent can sign his name anywhere that the Grantor could. The purpose of the Power of Attorney is to give another the ability to handle all of your financial and medical affairs in the event that you are unable to do so.
However, a common misconception regarding Powers of Attorney is that they only take effect when the Grantor becomes incapacitated. This simply is not true. It is important to remember that the Agent gains the power to represent your affairs immediately upon the filing of the Power of Attorney.
Accordingly, it must be stressed that you must explicitly trust the individual to whom you are naming as Agent. As a cautionary measure, the Pennsylvania Legislature has recently enacted a law requiring the Agent to sign a “good faith clause” on the Power of Attorney that certifies that he or she will act in good faith in representing your affairs.
A Power of Attorney is usually a very simple document, albeit a very important one, that every individual should have regardless of age. Call Attorney Artim at (412) 823-8003 to schedule an appointment or to discuss any question that you may have regarding Power of Attorney, Wills or Estates. If you prefer, send an email to Attorney Greg Artim