Powers of Attorney In Arizona!
A power of attorney is one of the simplest and most powerful tools in an Arizona estate plan. Unlike some parts of your estate plan, which are designed to provide for your loved ones after your death, a power of attorney protects your interests during your lifetime.
At Lincoln & Wenk, we’ve seen the complications that can arise when someone doesn’t have powers of attorney in place. We know how important it is for you to protect yourself, your assets, and those who depend on you. We also know that you need knowledgeable guidance about the authority you want to grant your representative, and how to choose the right person for the job.
We are here to help you determine and put in place the most effective protections for you and your family, based on your goals and preferences. To learn more about how we can help, call 623-294-2464 right now, or fill out our contact form.
Types of Powers of Attorney
In Arizona, there are two basic types of POAs: financial (or general) powers of attorney and healthcare powers of attorney. Within each category, there are a variety of options. For example, powers of attorney can generally be either time-limited or durable. A time-limited power of attorney has an expiration date, while a durable power of attorney remains in effect unless and until you revoke it. There are also a few types of narrower powers of attorney.
Financial or General Powers of Attorney
A general power of attorney allows the appointed person to act on your behalf in most circumstances. For example, the person who holds your power of attorney may:
- Deposit funds to and make withdrawals from your financial accounts
- Pay bills on your behalf
- Collect money owed to you
- Maintain real and personal property
- Buy and sell real and personal property
- Conduct business transactions
You can pick and choose which powers you are granting the person who holds your power of attorney. But, most people will find that broad authority is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the power of attorney. It may not be immediately obvious why someone holding your power of attorney would need the authority to make big changes, such as selling real estate.
However, a general power of attorney is intended to keep your affairs running if you are unable to manage them yourself. We all hope those circumstances will be temporary, but one big reason for arrangements such as creating powers of attorney is that we don’t know what will happen. If you are in a serious accident or are diagnosed with a cognitive disorder that leaves you incapacitated, all of the business of your life will still need tending.
If you own rental property, someone else will need the authority to make repairs on the property, evict non-paying tenants, and renew leases. If you are permanently transferred from the hospital to a long-term care facility and own a home, someone will need the authority to pay the mortgage and maintain the property for your family, transfer it to someone in your family, or sell it for your benefit.
Of course, these are just a couple of examples of the circumstances in which your representative may need to act and the steps they may need to take. A comprehensive power of attorney provides for the unanticipated.
Choosing the Person Who Holds Your Power of Attorney
When you’re placing this type of power in someone else’s hands, it’s important to choose carefully. Obviously, you will want to entrust this power to someone you have great faith in and can rely on to act in your best interests. But, that’s not the only consideration.
Good intentions aren’t enough to ensure that the job gets done right. If your brother is your best friend and the person you trust most in the world, but his bills are always late because he misplaces them and number crunching gives him hives, he may not be the best choice.
Healthcare Powers of Attorney
A general power of attorney covers a lot, but one thing it does not do is grant someone else the authority to make medical decisions for you. A medical power of attorney is a separate document that designates a family member or close friend the decision maker if you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions.
Most people will choose to pair their healthcare power of attorney with an advance healthcare directive (also known as a living will). The advance directive allows you to make decisions about significant end-of-life issues in advance, while the healthcare power of attorney puts other types of decision-making in the hands of a trusted proxy.
Other Powers of Attorney
Arizona law also provides for other specific-purpose powers of attorney. These include:
- A special power of attorney, which is a more limited type of power of attorney that allows another person to act on your behalf for a specific purpose. Often, this purpose will be a one-time event, such as attending a real estate closing and executing documents on your behalf, or claiming property for you.
- A parental power of attorney, which allows parents to give someone else short-term authority to care for their children. For example, you might use this type of power of attorney if you and your spouse were traveling outside the country and leaving your children with your parents. The power of attorney would allow them to sign permission slips for school, take the children to the doctor, and otherwise attend to their needs. It’s important to note, though, that different states have different requirements for this type of power of attorney. So, if you’re sending the kids to stay with their grandparents in another state for the summer, make sure you understand the requirements for that state.
Form and Execution of Powers of Attorney
For an Arizona power of attorney to be valid, it must contain specific language. In addition, the power of attorney must be signed by the person granting the authority and a witness and must be notarized. Both the principal and the witness must appear in front of the notary, show identification, and sign in front of the notary. The best way to ensure that your power of attorney is valid and achieves your goals is to have it prepared by an experienced Arizona estate planning attorney.
Revoking Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a voluntary grant of authority to another person. You can limit the authority granted and you can put an expiration date on the authority. You can also revoke the authority at any time, as long as you retain the capacity to do so. If you have a durable power of attorney and become permanently incapacitated, the power of attorney will remain in effect for as long as you live.
Talk to a Phoenix-Area Estate Planning Lawyer
Powers of attorney are an important part of a comprehensive estate plan, and can also be a powerful standalone tool for a specific purpose. To find the best solution for you, consult an attorney who has both the necessary knowledge and experience and your best interests at heart. To learn more about how Lincoln & Wenk can help you protect your interests and provide for your loved ones, call 623-294-2464 or fill out the contact form on this site.