Wisconsin Power of Attorney
What is a Power of Attorney?
Power of attorney or “POA” is a written document that grants another person or persons the power to act on your behalf as your agent. In this document you specify exactly what rights you want to grant to your agent, and for what period of time. Rights for an agent range from being able to sign your name, to making financial or health care decisions. The agent can take any action permitted in that document but they must present the document in order to provoke the power. Regardless of the type of power of attorney, it is the responsibility of the agent or also called the “attorney-in-fact” to keep accurate records of all transactions they make on your behalf.
Types of Power of Attorney
There are several different types of POA documents, each severing their own purpose for a specific situation.
A General Power of Attorney awards a broad scope of power to an agent or organization. The agent will be able to make medical decisions, legal choices, or financial decisions on your behalf in the case that you are mentally or physically unable to do so. We often include these into our Estate Plans to ensure that someone has the power to make financial decisions on your behalf. The General Power of Attorney ends at your death or incapacitation unless you rescind it before then.
A Limited Power of Attorney allows you to give specific powers to an agent for a specific event or limited amount of time. A Limited POA may be used in the event that you need to sign a document but you are out of town, or unwell. The Limited Power of Attorney only gives limited power to your agent typically for a one-time only event.
A Durable Power of Attorney serves the same function as a general power of attorney. However, it remains in effect even after you become incapacitated. It ends at your death unless you revoke it before then.
A Springing Power of Attorney takes effect at a future date, or upon the occurrence of a certain event, and allows the agent to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. The Springing POA doesn’t go into effect until after you are incapacitated. You can assign any number of affairs to the agent. It is very important that the standards for determining incapacity or who must make that declaration (usually your doctor) be clearly laid out in the document.
Health Care POA
A health care power of attorney appoints an agent to make health care decision on your behalf if you are unconscious or mentally incompetent. This only becomes effective when you don’t have the capacity to make medical decisions.
A financial power of attorney is a type of POA that authorizes someone to act on your behalf to make decisions concerning your financial affairs. The document will clearly state when it is effective, either being immediately or upon the occurrence of a certain event, and typically ends upon the death of the principal unless otherwise noted.
Duties and Responsibilities of an Agent
When picking an agent there are a few things to keep in mind: legally, the agent must be of sound mind and 18 years of age or older. It is important to consider who will act in your best interest and someone who is trustworthy and organized.
Agent duties include:
- Act on behalf of and be subject to the control of the principal (person who is authorizing the other to act)
- Act within the power delegated by the principal
- Execute the duties with care and diligence
- Avoid conflict between own personal interest and those of the principal
- Immediately hand over to the principal all moneys collected on principal’s behalf
How Does the Power of Attorney Sign My Documents?
Let’s assume John Doe appoints his wife, Jane Doe, as his agent in a written power of attorney. As an agent, Jane must sign as follows:
“John Doe, by Jane Doe under POA” or
“Jane Doe, attorney-in-fact for John Doe.”
In doing your research you may find several power of attorney documents online. While these are legal, we feel it best to consult with an attorney to decide which type of power of attorney is right for your situation. Our skilled attorneys prepare these documents often and will ask the right questions to ensure that the right POA document is selected for you and that your document is worded correctly so that your agent will act in your best interest for the time period that you want them to.
If you are interested in adding a power of attorney to your Estate Plan
contact our Estate Planning Attorneys today at 920-499-5700.
If you are interested in learning more about Wisconsin Power of Attorneys check out these helpful links: