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  • Writer's pictureDweise Harris

Dispelling Common Misconceptions About Power of Attorneys


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There are various reasons why someone might need a power of attorney. It could be due to a sudden illness or incapacity, or it could simply be for convenience. Having a trusted person designated to make important decisions can give a sense of security and ensure that your affairs are handled properly. However, being aware of common misconceptions surrounding powers of attorney is crucial.


Common Misconceptions About Power of Attorneys


Only older adults need power of attorney.


Having a power of attorney can benefit anyone who cannot manage their own affairs for any reason. This includes individuals traveling abroad for a long time. When I was in the military, I gave my wife power of attorney to handle my personal affairs while I was away. We also had young children then, so that she could sign documents for any necessary changes on my behalf. People may also need a power of attorney if they will undergo surgery or if they are aging and may experience a decline in cognitive abilities.


A power of attorney gives your agent complete control over your finances.


When you provide someone with a power of attorney, it is important to understand that they only have the ability to act on your behalf for the specific powers that you have granted them. In other words, if you authorize them to sign checks, they are solely permitted to sign checks on your behalf. It is crucial to note that they are not permitted to use your funds for their personal expenses or any other unauthorized purposes. Therefore, it is imperative to carefully consider the specific powers you wish to grant when creating a power of attorney to ensure that your interests are protected.


A power of attorney is only valid if it is notarized.


This is not true. While a power of attorney does not necessarily need to be notarized to be legally binding, it is strongly recommended to do so to provide an extra layer of protection against possible instances of fraud. Having a notary public witness the signing of the power of attorney document ensures that the identity of the parties involved is verified and that the document is authentic. This can help prevent any disputes or challenges to the validity of the power of attorney down the line. Therefore, it is recommended to consider notarization as a precautionary measure when creating a power of attorney.


Once you sign a power of attorney, you cannot revoke it.


This is not true. If an individual is of sound mind and capable of making decisions, they have the legal right to cancel a power of attorney agreement at any time. This can be accomplished by preparing and signing a written revocation document or by destroying the original power of attorney document. It is important to note that once a power of attorney has been revoked, the previously appointed agent no longer has the legal authority to act on behalf of the individual. It is advisable to consult with a legal professional to ensure that the revocation is properly executed and documented.


A power of attorney is only valid in the state where it is signed.


This is not true. When it comes to a power of attorney document, it's important to ensure it is executed correctly for it to be valid in all states. However, for added peace of mind, having an attorney in the specific state where the document will be utilized to review it is highly recommended. This will ensure everything is in order and the document meets all necessary legal requirements in that state.


What's Next?


Deciding to create a power of attorney can significantly impact your life. That's why it's crucial to do your due diligence and seek guidance from a legal professional. By taking the time to understand the document fully and ensuring that it meets your needs, you'll be making a proactive and informed choice that can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.


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