Top 5 myths about powers of attorney

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2019 | Estate Planning |

At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo in California, we draft numerous powers of attorney for our various clients. Depending on a client’s specific needs, (s)he may require one or several of them.

We thought it would be helpful to review the questions clients most frequently ask about powers of attorney. Per, here are the top five myths about them.

1. You can download whatever you need from the internet.

While you can download a myriad of power of attorney forms from the internet, the problem with them is that none of them were designed for you and your needs. Remember, your power of attorney is a legal document, the language of which must comply with California statutes and provisions. Therefore, your best strategy to achieve precisely the power of attorney you need is to have your lawyer draft it for you.

2. Anyone can sign a power of attorney at any time.

The only people who can sign legal documents, including powers of attorney, are those who have the mental capacity to do so. Therefore, if your elderly parent, for instance, wants to appoint you as his or her attorney in fact to look out for his or her financial interests when (s)he can no longer make these decisions for himself or herself, make sure (s)he executes the power of attorney while (s)he still has the mental competency to do so.

3. All powers of attorney are the same.

This statement is by no means true. For one thing, a power of attorney can be either general or limited in nature. For example, some powers of attorney such as Health Care Advanced Directives cover only medical decisions. Others such as financial powers of attorney cover only financial decisions.

4. The attorney in fact can do whatever (s)he wants with the person’s assets.

The attorney in fact, i.e., the person named in the power of attorney to make the designated decisions, acts as the fiduciary for the person who executed it. (S)he must always act in that person’s best interests. Under no circumstances can the attorney in fact act in his or her own best interests.

5. Some powers of attorney survive the person who made them.

People often think that a durable power of attorney lasts forever, even after the person who executed it dies. This is not true. A durable power of attorney remains in effect until the person who executed it revokes it during his or her lifetime. Once (s)he dies, however, it automatically terminates.

For more information, please visit this page on our website. 



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