What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legally signed document that bestows authority upon someone to act on behalf of another person. The person granting the power is the principal, and the person being given the POA is the agent or attorney-in-fact. The agent can be a close family member or friend, and the principal can trust them to act in their best interests.
A POA is crucial if the principal becomes incapacitated and their decision-making skills are temporarily or permanently impaired due to injury, disability, or illness. If you wish to act as your spouse’s POA if they are incapacitated, knowing what to do is important. Your skilled estate planning attorney in Michigan can explain the process.
What is the Role of Power of Attorney in Marriage?
Married couples often have legal estate documents prepared jointly, including a Will or living trust. The documents outline how the couple’s property will be distributed upon the demise of either spouse, either to the surviving spouse or the children. However, they may require and should have an additional document, which is a power of attorney.
The document allows a spouse to handle business and financial activities on behalf of their spouse if they become incapacitated. It ensures a spouse can act for the granting spouse without court intervention. Many people assume that a spouse automatically gets the decision-making position for their partner if they become incapacitated, but that’s not true.
A power of attorney helps couples establish legal authority to act on behalf of each other when one is unavailable or incapacitated. Skilled lawyers at Kendal Law Group PC in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan can help you create a power of attorney to act on your spouse’s behalf.
Under What Circumstances Can an Agent Act on a Principal’s Behalf?
The power of attorney document stipulates the circumstances and extent to which an agent can act on behalf of the principal. Powers of attorney typically are either for financial or medical matters:
Financial Power of Attorney
Financial POA allows an agent to manage the financial affairs and business affairs of the principal. The roles under this document include:
- Signing checks
- Making bank deposits and withdrawals
- Mailing and depositing Social Security checks
- Filing tax returns
- Managing investment accounts and retirement benefits
- Sell, refinance, or mortgage property
As an agent, you must adhere to the principal’s wishes to the best of your ability, or at least to the extent spelled out in the agreement as your responsibility.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Under this POA, you will have the authority to make medical decisions for your spouse. The document is also called a healthcare proxy and outlines the privileges the agent gets if the principal acquires a medical condition that curtails their ability to decide for themselves.
As a medical POA, you’re legally bound to oversee medical care decisions on behalf of the principal. So, it only becomes effective when the principal can no longer make health-related decisions independently.
You can choose the type of power of attorney to create depending on your spouse’s condition and your agreement. Skilled Bloomfield Hills power of attorney lawyers can provide legal counsel and guide you on creating an effective POA and estate plan.
How Can My Spouse Create a Power of Attorney?
After establishing that they want you to serve as their power of attorney, your spouse can consult skilled power of attorney lawyers in Michigan for the following purposes:
Putting the POA in writing: It is crucial to put the instructions in a POA in writing, given that verbal instructions are not reliable in granting authority to the agent. Written agreements provide clarity to prevent arguments and confusion.
Using the proper format: There are many variations of a POA, and a POA attorney in Michigan can help you choose the most suitable one, depending on your requirements. They will also ensure the document is enforceable to prevent any challenges that may arise later.
Specifying durability: Making the POA durable is the only way to ensure you can still act on behalf of your spouse if they become incapacitated. The document will last the principal’s lifetime unless they later revoke it.
What If My Spouse Becomes Incapacitated Before Creating a POA?
If your spouse becomes incapacitated without a durable power of attorney, you can petition the court for guardianship or a conservatorship for financial matters. That would give you control over your incapacitated spouse, their property, or both.
Once appointed as guardian or conservator by the court, you will have the power to decide on your spouse’s behalf within the scope defined by the court. This is unfortunately much more expensive than having a proper POA created.
Professional Legal Assistance in Creating a Power of Attorney for Spouse Michigan
There is no legal requirement for spouses to create a durable power of attorney, but the document serves a crucial purpose if one of them becomes incapacitated. You can have a healthcare, or financial power of attorney, or both, depending on your agreement with your spouse.
Be sure to consult skilled power of attorney lawyers at Kendal Law Group in Bloomfield Hills, MI, to understand the scope of each document.
Our law firm can provide the legal assistance you need in creating business and estate planning documents. If you have questions regarding power of attorney for an incapacitated spouse, we are here to help. Contact the Kendal Law Group PC at 248-609-1718 to schedule a FREE consultation.