Although many estate planning tools and documents are unfamiliar to the average person, a Power of Attorney is one that most people are somewhat familiar with what can be accomplished using a Power of Attorney (POA). In fact, you may already have a Power of Attorney in your own estate plan, or you may be named as an Agent in a Power of Attorney (POA) executed by someone else. What you may not understand, however, is what is meant by a Durable Power of Attorney. To help keep you informed, an Essex Junction attorney at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC explains what a Vermont durable Power of Attorney is and how one might fit into your Vermont estate plan.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal arrangement that allows you (referred to as the “Principal”) to appoint someone (referred to as your “Agent”) to have legal authority to act on your behalf. There are two broad categories of POAs: general and limited. A general POA confers broad power on the designated Agent. With the power granted to an Agent in a general POA your Agent can do things such as access financial accounts, sign a contract in your name, or even sell your home. A limited POA, as the name implies, only confers limited authority on your Agent. For example, if you need someone to be available while you are out of town for a couple of days to finalize the sale of a vehicle you have listed for sale, you might give them a limited POA that specifies they can act on your behalf to facilitate the sale of the vehicle only. Parents with minor children also frequently use a limited Power of Attorney to give a caregiver the legal authority necessary to consent to medical treatment in an emergency while the child is in the caregiver’s care.
What Does It Mean to Make a Power of Attorney Durable?
The concept of a POA has been around for a very long time. Traditionally, the authority granted in a Power of Attorney terminated upon the death or incapacity of the Principal, creating a problem. Often, the goal of the person who created the POA was to give someone his/her legal authority in the event of incapacity, precisely what a traditional POA cannot do. The solution was the durable Power of Attorney. A durable Power of Attorney survives the incapacity of the Principal and only terminates automatically upon the Principal’s death. Both a general and a limited POA can be made durable.
How Do I Make a Vermont POA Durable?
Most issues related to a Power of Attorney are governed by state law, including how a durable POA is created. In Vermont, the law presumes that any Power of Attorney is durable unless the POA document makes it clear that the Principal does not want the POA to be durable. Consequently, you must expressly state that your POA terminates upon your incapacity if you do not want it to be a durable POA in Vermont.
How Does a Durable Power of Attorney Fit into My Estate Plan?
A common reason to include a general durable POA into a comprehensive estate plan is to ensure that someone has the authority to take over your finances and take control of your assets if you suddenly become incapacitated because of an accident or illness. Married couples, for instance, frequently create reciprocal POAs for this reason. Aging parents may also create a durable POA to give an adult child authority to take over control of their finances if they become incapacitated.
Are You Interested in Creating a Vermont Durable Power of Attorney?
For more information, please attend one of our upcoming FREE webinars. If you wish to discuss creating a Vermont durable Power of Attorney, contact an experienced Essex Junction estate planning attorney at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC by calling 802-879-7133 to schedule your appointment today.