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What Is A Power of Attorney?

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: June 23, 2017

What is a Power of Attorney and Can It Expire?

On January 1, 2017, the State of Washington implemented new laws concerning many different types of Powers of Attorney and specific directions that can be added or limited.

If you do not have a Power of Attorney, your timing is good because now would be a great time to get it done along with all of your necessary estate planning documents such as a medical power of attorney, Will, Trust, health care documents, Directive to Physician and other related items: such as double checking the beneficiaries designated for your retirement plan or life insurance.

Power of attorney (POA) is a document that allows someone else to make legally binding decisions for you. These decisions could be financial, medical, or legal decisions that impact you or loved ones.

Powers of Attorney can be effective they day you sign it or the authority can start (and stop) at a later time. Springing power of attorney means there are conditions under which the power of attorney is put into action. They might be under certain medical conditions, or if you are no longer legally considered capable of making your own decisions. You could even stipulate that it goes into effect at a certain age; it’s up to you. Durable power of attorney means that the grant of authority continues to be valid if you lose the mental ability to manage your assets.

Powers of attorney expire upon a person’s death. So, having only a Power of Attorney is typically not a complete solution but a power of attorney does not help your loved ones transfer assets after you die.

You can also have these documents revoked at any time and draw up new ones if you so choose and are still legally considered of sound mind. This might include changing the terms to address a new health issue or changing who can act as your POA. But if you never change anything and it’s decades old before anyone needs to use it, if properly executed, your POA will be valid for all legal matters until that person has passed away.

Take a look at our client reviews. Over the past 27 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 1,000 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More