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Power of attorney can be useful in estate administration

People in Winter Haven and Lakeland who are working on their estate plans probably concentrate on common planning instruments like wills and trusts. These are essential components of many estate plans, but people should not forget about other important issues, like deciding whether a power of attorney makes sense for the future.

A power of attorney is a document in which designate another person whom they trust to make important decisions for them in the future, should they be unable to act or make decisions on their own behalf. The person who has the power of attorney is known as an attorney-in-fact, or agent.

When thinking though an estate plan and designating person to be hold a power of attorney, a person can enumerate exactly how much authority and control that the attorney-in-fact will have. For example, a person can decide to have his or her attorney-in-fact carry out very limited functions, like selling a home or other asset. On the other hand, the person could also decide that should he or she become physically or mentally disabled, the agent should have much broader power to handle all of the designator's business affairs.

With regard to estate administration, a power of attorney can permit the agent to begin the process of carrying out a person's estate plan. But, there are limits to what an agent can do to administer the estate plan. For example, the attorney-in-fact may be powerless to change the terms of a will or existing trust.

Before drafting a power of attorney, a person should understand exactly what roles he or she want the agent to be able to carry out. An experienced estate administration attorney can help people understand the nuances of how powers of attorney can benefit them and the administration of their estates.

Source: American Bar Association, "Power of Attorney," Accessed on Dec. 18, 2016

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