Powers of Attorney 101

You must have a financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney in Pennsylvania, and you must make sure these documents are updated every five years or so. It’s important to update them because the older the documents are, the less likely an institution or individual will accept the documents as valid.

Why are these documents important? They allow someone to act for you if you become disabled or incompetent, temporarily or permanently.

If you don’t have these documents, you are not guaranteed that a loved one or someone else can make decisions for you unless that person goes to court to get guardianship. That is time consuming, expensive, and burdensome. It is, in other words, unnecessary.

There are two types of Financial Powers of Attorney, IMMEDIATE and SPRINGING.

* Immediate Powers of Attorney: This type allow the person you appoint to act without doctors certifying incapacity.

* Springing Powers of Attorney: Here, (usually) two doctors must certify incapacity or incompetency in writing.

The problem with a Springing Power of attorney is that sometimes, people forget they have this type. When it comes time for the appointed person to use the Power of Attorney, they cannot unless they have the doctors certification. In other words, this can hold up important affairs, decisions and transactions. We’re not saying that Springing POAs have no place, but often times, Immediate POAs make more sense.

Some people will ask to have a Springing POA because they don’t trust the person they appoint to act properly if they have the ability to use the power of attorney right away. A Springing POA won’t solve the trust issue though. Therefore, you need to start from scratch and decide who you trust completely to handle your affairs. Once you find someone you trust, then the type of POA will probably matter much less.