Power of Attorney
Serving Families and Individuals in the Anniston, Gadsden, and Talladega, AL Areas
A power of attorney is an essential part of any Alabama estate plan. It gives someone else the legal authority to act on your behalf to handle your finances and property, in the event you become incompetent or incapacitated or not able to do so. Powers of attorney in Alabama can be very broad or they can be very specific depending on what you want to use it for.
As an example of a specific power, when you go to purchase a vehicle, the dealer will have you sign a limited power of attorney to allow the title of the vehicle to be transferred into your name. The only authority you give the dealership is to transfer that title. Once that happens, the power terminates. This is not the kind of power of attorney needed for estate planning.
For estate planning and elder law, you need a durable power of attorney preferably drafted by an Alabama estate planning attorney. That document gives someone legal authority to do almost anything on your behalf – pay your bills, cash your checks, get into your bank accounts. Some people think of it as giving away a blank check. However, if I give you a blank check, all you can take from me is what is in my bank account. But if I give you a broad durable power of attorney, you can basically take anything from me. So it is important that you only give this power to someone that you trust as part of a comprehensive estate plan and elder law.
For more information, register for one of our free Estate Planning Workshops where we discuss powers of attorney and other issues in more detail or call us at 256-792-3193 to register.
Most spouses give each other a durable power of attorney. It just makes things a lot simpler, because if you do not have a power of attorney, and you need someone to act legally on your behalf, then someone has to go to the probate court and file for a conservatorship, which takes a lot of time and money. It is a very slow process, very inefficient, and not the preferred way to handle it. So having a power of attorney as part of a comprehensive estate plan in Alabama will avoid that and allow someone to act on your behalf in the event that it becomes necessary to do so.
Just having a “standard” durable power of attorney may not be enough. We see cases where people have a power of attorney that is too powerful like a super blank check, and others where they are not powerful enough. For example, the standard Alabama power of attorney does not allow for trust creation or modification. If your power of attorney does not allow it, your family would not be able to create a trust to protect your assets from the costs of long term care. Sadly, we see this all the time. An experienced elder law attorney or estate planning lawyer can draft it to insure that it meets your needs.
Having a power of attorney makes it much easier on your family if something happens to you. Executing a power of attorney will give you the peace of mind knowing that you have someone to take care of your finances in the event you are not able to do so. No estate plan is complete without a durable power of attorney.
If you would like more information, register for one of our free Estate Planning Workshops OR get a free copy of our Basics of Estate Planning in Alabama book by visiting www.AlabamaEstatePlanningGuide.com OR call us now at 256-792-3193.
Content copyright © Adams Miller Law, LLP.