Under Pennsylvania law, a Durable Power of Attorney is a written document by which a principal designates another to be his agent. The authority conferred upon the agent under a Durable Power of Attorney is exercisable notwithstanding the principal’s subsequent disability or incapacity. Unless otherwise specified in the document, the Durable Power of Attorney will not expire due to lapse of time.
There are two ways to confer power to your agent with a Pennsylvania Durable Power of Attorney. First, a principal may provide in the written document that the power shall become effective immediately. Second, a principal may provide that the power shall become effective upon the occurrence of a specified contingency, including the disability or incapacity of the principal. This is called a “springing power of attorney.”
Why You Should Consider a PA Durable Power of Attorney
Many people think that it is unnecessary to have a Durable Power of Attorney if they do not have much money or if they hold all property jointly with a spouse or partner. However, there are many actions that an agent will need specific authority to do, including the following:
- Applying for work-related disability or income continuation benefits
- Applying for public benefits such as Social Security Disability
- Accessing or changing retirement plans
- Filing insurance claims or appealing insurance denials
- Signing tax forms
- Selling a home to move somewhere more accessible
- Contracting for health care services
- Hiring accountants and lawyers
If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney and you become incompetent, it may be necessary for your family to ask the court to appoint a guardian for you. Appointing a guardian takes time and can be cumbersome, time consuming and expensive. Your family will need to hire a Pennsylvania lawyer to arrange for a court hearing. A physician will need to provide evidence that you cannot handle your own affairs. If you are physically able, you will be required to appear at the courthouse to hear the testimony that you are incompetent, and this can prove to be a very stressful and emotional experience for all family involved.
Compensation for the Services of an Agent
An agent is entitled to reasonable compensation based upon the actual responsibilities assumed and performed. An agent is also entitled to reimbursement for actual expenses advanced on behalf of the principal and to reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the performance of the agent’s duties under a Durable Power of Attorney.
Tasks an Agent May Provide Under a PA Durable Power of Attorney
Estate Planning lawyers Blue Bell PAAn agent may perform a variety of tasks for you, including:
- Handling bank accounts
- Paying bills
- Buying and selling real estate
- Handling a business
- Applying for public benefits
- Making changes to life insurance or retirement plans
- Filing taxes
- Hiring workers for personal assistance
- Hiring lawyers or accountants
- Securing investment advice
- Making gifts
- Creating or transferring assets to a trust
- Compensating an agent
- Reimbursing an agent
The tasks an agent may provide under a Durable Power of Attorney in PA include, but are not limited to the above. For each of these tasks, you may authorize your agent to do almost anything the law permits you to do yourself.
Contact A Durable Power of Attorney Lawyer in PA
The Pennsylvania estate planning practice at The Martin Law Firm consists of a qualified team of skilled PA estate planning lawyers and support staff. Our experienced estate planning lawyers regularly assist clients with the preparation and implementation of a Durable Power of Attorney for incapacity planning as part of a comprehensive Pennsylvania estate plan. Our Durable Power of Attorney lawyers represent clients in Montgomery County, PA, as well as the surrounding areas of Philadelphia County, Bucks County, Delaware County and Chester County. Contact our office in Blue Bell, PA for a free case evaluation at 215-646-3980.