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Pocatello Estate Planning and Your Power of Attorney

Estate planning is designed to protect you when the worst case scenarios occur in your life. This includes planning for yourself and your own life personally and providing protections for yourself while you are alive. Our Pocatello estate planning team of attorneys has assisted clients in creating and customizing estate plans for over 70 years. A basic component of the customized estate plans has included a power of attorney which can provide specific protections for our clients individually while they are alive. A power of attorney allows each person to avoid the need of having a legal guardianship proceeding happen in court. This does away with the expensive and time-consuming process. More importantly, it eliminates the possibility of family disputes and disagreements.

At the Racine Law office our team of Pocatello estate planning lawyers work together to ensure that each of our clients’ needs are met. Our team includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each lawyer on our team has received outstanding reviews from other judges, attorneys, and most importantly from clients, who recognize the skill and experience of our estate planning team.

A power of attorney is a vital part of every estate plan. Here are three specific things that you should know about how a power of attorney can help you.

1. Stating Specifically When It Begins

The starting place for every power of attorney is to specifically define when it becomes effect or can be used. Every person has the right to choose when a power of attorney over them will become effective. A person can choose to make a power of attorney immediately effective once it’s signed. Alternatively, a person can choose to make the power of attorney effective only after some specific event occurs. When a power of attorney can only become effective after some triggering event occurs, it is called a springing power of attorney.

For example, a springing power of attorney may include a specific instruction stating that it will become effective only when one or more doctors provide a certificate in writing that the person giving the power of attorney is incapacitated, or incapable of caring for themselves, their finances, or their personal health care. When some limiting language is included in a power of attorney, the person giving the power to another controls if and when the power of attorney actually becomes effective and can be used.

Each person should decide for themselves when their power of attorney will become effective. For example, spouses usually provide instructions that their power of attorney becomes immediately effective for their spouse when they sign it. This is the case most often because as a spouse you will know what the other person needs or wants. Additionally, spouses are usually already doing everything for each other already. Alternatively, most individuals do not want to give a power of attorney immediately to their children or to others. Rather, with these people they will usually require that the power of attorney spring into effect after a physician declares that they are incapacitated. The reason for this is that it allows the individual to maintain independence as long as possible.

When a power of attorney is silent and has no specific instructions stating when it becomes effective or if it provides vague instructions, it could lead to a disagreement. Often these types of disagreements require a decision by a court. It is frustrating when this occurs because a power of attorney is designed to avoid this type of thing. As a result, we advise our clients to provide a specific statement in their power of attorney about when it becomes effective.

2. Defining the Powers that are Given

The second most important thing to think about when it comes to a power of attorney is providing a specific statement or statements defining the exact powers that are given. In Idaho, there are two basic types of estate planning powers of attorney that exist. These include a power of attorney for healthcare. This document is tied directly to and is often included as a part of the living will document. The healthcare power of attorney allows a person to give specific instructions on the powers given that will allow another individual to make healthcare decisions for them when they cannot make them for themselves.

The other power of attorney that exists in basic Idaho estate planning is what is usually identified as a durable power of attorney. This power of attorney allows a person to name some other individual who will do everything else for them other than health care. This will include dealing with their bank accounts and finances, paying bills and dealing with creditors, receiving monies from other sources including Social Security, and caring for your property and assets. The durable power of attorney is much more global and provides broader powers to the individual that receives it.

When assisting our clients we recommend and often provide specific written instructions in each power of attorney. These provide information about the powers that are given. It also defines any limitations to those powers. By doing this, our clients are able to have a clear understanding of what the individual they name as their power of attorney can and cannot do for them.

3. Using the Original Power of Attorney

The final thing to understand about using a power of attorney is how important the original document is. The original Power of Attorney document is often required in order for a third-party to honor it. In the past this wasn’t really a big deal. However, things have changed in this digital age. In most instances Healthcare Providers, banks, and financial institutions, require the original Power of Attorney document to be shown to them physically before they will acknowledge it. Often they will then make a scanned copy for their own records.

This has become more and more established now due to health care providers banks, and financial institutions, wanting to ensure that they can avoid liability. They just don’t want to be sued. By reviewing the original Power of Attorney document these institutions and the individuals running them can acknowledge and declare that they completed their due diligence in determining whether the power of attorney was valid before they acknowledged it.

Enlist a Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Pocatello lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning needs if your spouse has passed away. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems.

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