Should I Secure Springing Power of Attorney?
For some, one of the most nerve-wracking parts of end-of-life planning involves what happens as you begin to lose control of your faculties and abilities. Learning more about the different “Power of Attorney” concepts is essential, especially if you become fully incapacitated and you need to arrange the springing power of attorney.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- The general power of attorney
- The springing power of attorney
- The durable power of attorney
We’ll go over each of their differences and how you can decide which is best for you. As with all of our resources here at The Postage, we want you to have the best information possible so you can make the right decision for your life.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A general power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that authorizes someone else to act on your behalf. In legal language, you are referred to as the “principal,” and the person you designate is the “agent.” This person is allowed to take care of specific responsibilities in your place. The agent becomes your “attorney-in-fact.”
With a general power of attorney, you can specify what that person (or people) can and cannot do for you. Typical tasks include paying bills, filing taxes, signing checks, doing real estate deals, and other financial decisions. With your overarching approval, they can perform daily assignments without receiving specific permission for each one—including making medical decisions.
However, you can get even more specific with how you issue a power of attorney, especially when and how that power goes into effect.
What is a Springing Power of Attorney?
With this legal document, a power of attorney “springs” to your named agent when you as the principal become incapacitated. You secure a springing power of attorney by describing the exact way(s) in which you would become so incapacitated that you can’t take care of yourself. You then would have a doctor sign it along with you and your agent(s) in the presence of a notary public.
The Pros and Cons of a Springing Power of Attorney?
Many people like the idea of a springing POA because they want to control their situation and circumstances for as long as possible. While that makes sense, as it can be challenging to hand over responsibility for your life while you’re still able to function almost normally, problems can arise over the definition of “incapacitated.”
For example, another family member who isn’t your agent could dispute your health status. Your doctors and the disputing person’s doctors would need to examine you to verify your condition. These medical and legal conflicts could last weeks.
This delay could result in unpaid bills and other financial errors because no one has your power of attorney. Additionally, your family members couldn’t be updated on your medical situation because of potential HIPAA violations.
Thus, the “springing” element might not spring when or how you want it to, especially if you try to stay in control for too long.
What’s the Difference Between a Durable Power of Attorney and a Springing Power of Attorney?
It’s relatively straightforward:
- A durable POA puts your agent(s) in charge on your terms.
- A springing POA puts your agents(s) in charge when you have no control remaining.
Thus, many attorneys recommend you implement a durable power of attorney. In this instance, you’re putting your agent in charge as soon as the paperwork is signed. This way, you can still know what’s happening, and you’re free from the hassle of day-to-day tasks. And since you aren’t incapacitated in this situation, you can still stand up for yourself and your decision if someone disputes it.
With a springing POA, you can’t contribute to the conversation since it only goes into effect if you are incapacitated. Even though people like it because you retain control as long as possible, it’s more limiting because your agent can only help you once you cannot help yourself.
Which Power of Attorney is Right for Me?
The Postage recommends that you talk to your attorney and accountant for specific legal advice about which power of attorney setup is best for you, your estate, and your family. In our experience, each person has their particular circumstances that could require a different solution than a best friend or family member. But we do know that setting up some sort of power of attorney transfer is an essential aspect of effective estate planning. You must ensure that someone you trust can take charge of your responsibilities as you approach the end of your life.
If you want access to other information and tools to aid you with end-of-life planning, sign up for The Postage today. We offer helping document organization in a secure online environment, complete with messaging for your loved ones, and access to your information for your designated agent(s). We put you in charge of your present and future, and you can easily align your account to coincide with the terms of your power of attorney.