A durable power of attorney can play an important role in your Utah estate plan. While some powers of attorney do not apply to situations where the principal has become incapacitated due to physical or mental inability, Utah law allows for a “durable” power of attorney–one that remains in effect regardless of your incapacity or competency. (Iit endures incapacity, hence it’s “durable.”) Willow Creek Law prepares durable powers of attorney as part of your estate plan.
Authority Under a Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a versatile document that provides someone you designate with authority to act on your behalf. A power of attorney document can be narrowly drafted to provide your agent limited powers. Or it can be drafted more broadly to grant your agent power to act on your behalf in a wide range of circumstances. For example, if you would like to grant someone the authority to access only one particular bank account, the power of attorney grants the limited authority to someone to access that account and not do other things. Alternatively, a power of attorney can be written to grant a broad range of powers to someone who is well trusted to manage affairs if you are unable. Usually in conjunction with an estate plan, a party grants to a spouse or another trusted person the authority to manage a broad amount of personal affairs.
Selecting a Power of Attorney Agent
It is important to select the right person to have power of attorney. The person you name is sometimes called the “agent” or the “attorney in fact.” That person will have broad authority and power to do things you specify, such as managing accounts, paying taxes, accessing personal information, etc. Due to the sensitive nature of the powers granted, you should pick someone you trust to not abuse their authority. Select a person that is trustworthy and is competent to manage your affairs. Many people select their spouse or an adult child to act on their behalf. Please note that being trustworthy and capable are both important characteristics–being trustworthy but lacking competence is not a good combination; similarly, being highly competent but not trustworthy makes for a poor choice.
How to Revoke a Durable Power of Attorney
Utah law permits a power of attorney to automatically terminate after a period of time. If no date is specified, or if you desire to revoke (terminate or invalidate) the power of attorney before the termination date, you may do that. When you do so, you should be aware that others may not know that the power of attorney has been revoked. It is therefore wise to provide notice of revocation to anyone who might rely on the power of attorney.
Willow Creek Law provides complete estate planning services, including preparing powers of attorney, living trusts, last wills and testaments, among other things. If you need to create a durable power of attorney, contact our Sandy, Utah law firm.