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home | Legal Issues | Do I Need A Lawyer For A Power of At . . .

Do I Need A Lawyer For A Power of Attorney?

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Q: I want to set up a power of attorney and the bank said to go on the web to find the form and bring it back in. Where do I find this form? and do I need to use a lawyer for this? Thanks.

A: Whoo boy!

I am bumfuzzled that someone working at a bank told you to go onto the web to get anything except a very limited, very short-term power of attorney form. A limited power of attorney would allow someone to do one thing (such as sell a car, close on a house, etc.). The time period for this kind of limited power would be defined, and the power would expire after that date. For this kind of POA I suppose you could download a form with some degree of confidence and it wouldn't cost very much (though I am not an attorney, and a lawyer would probably dispute this).

For a Durable Power of Attorney - one which will not expire, and one which gives a person very broad powers to manage someone else's financial affairs, I don't really think it is a good idea to just download something. You have no idea (a) who wrote the document; (b) whether it meets the regulations of your state; (c) whether it has included everything it needs to include.

For instance, I am looking at my own Durable Power of Attorney, prepared for me by an attorney. Among the things it addresses are debts, dues, bonds, notes, checks, drafts, accounts, deposits, legacies, bequests, dividends, stock certificates, certificates of deposit, annuities, pensions and retirement benefits, insurance benefits, personal and real property.....and this is just the first few lines in the first of 13 paragraphs.

So yes, I believe it would be a good idea to have any document that will give someone this much power over someone's financial affairs prepared by a good estate planning attorney. The risk that something important could be left out or addressed in error are too great. And when you need the document it's usually too late to make changes.



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