A power of attorney is both a powerful and critical tool in an Estate Planning attorney’s plan for most clients. In general terms, a power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual, known as the agent, to make decisions on behalf of another, known as the principal.
There are a number of different types of powers of attorney. Typically, a POA is legal binding and allows the agent to act immediately upon signing the document. Some clients are uncomfortable with granting the power to an agent unless a specific event or condition “springs” the POA into authority.
A springing power of attorney is another type, albeit not commonly used. It can provide peace of mind for individuals with potential concerns about a future inability to advocate for him or herself.
A document that “springs”
A springing power of attorney is a type of power of attorney that allows an agent to make decisions on behalf of a principal—but only when an event or future date stipulated in the document occurs or “springs.”
For example, a principal wants to create a power of attorney but only wants the document to become effective if he or she becomes incapacitated, often with a doctor having confirmed the condition.
If incapacitation occurs, the POA “springs” to life and immediately becomes legally binding, empowering the agent to take over as stipulated in the agreement.
The importance of including detailed language
In certain instances, a springing power of attorney is very useful. However, those opting to use these types of POAs should exercise care and caution.
If, for instance, the condition subsequent is in fact incapacitation, the document should include detailed provisions that address what it means to become incapacitated and the persons or professionals who need to sign off on the diagnosis before the POA becomes effective, among other important language.
If you wish to inquire further about a springing power of attorney, seeking guidance from an experienced attorney with knowledge in this area of law is recommended.
The right lawyer can offer advice about whether this type of POA is the right document for your situation. If it is, your lawyer can make sure to include specific provisions that will address your specific goals.