“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra
Clients ask me what will happen if they, or their parents, become too ill to handle their investments and pay their bills. Should they add the names of relatives or friends to their accounts and hope for the best? Should they give verbal permission to someone else to sign checks? What happens to their money if their illness becomes permanent?
These are legitimate concerns, especially in the midst of an economy where it has become increasingly more difficult to make ends meet.
The answer is to have a properly prepared, duly witnessed and notarized Durable Power of Attorney (POA). “Durable”? What does that mean?
The new changes in Pennsylvania law, as in many other states, encourage such powers to be given in such a way that they do not expire in a given period of time or after a specified illness. The POA remains in effect until it is revoked by the person granting it. This enables the holder of the POA to continue helping pay bills for medical expenses, utilities, taxes, and other essential services.
Now, by law, there is a required notice that must be given to the grantor of the POA explaining, in specific terms, the powers that are being given to the person chosen to serve as an agent. The POA document itself is lengthy and contains many specifics that have evolved from generations of litigation. In addition, the recipient must sign a notarized oath acknowledging receipt of their responsibilities and duties.
Signed copies of this document are given to financial institutions, advisors, and health providers as the sole legal authority for anyone to act on the grantor’s behalf. I like to think of it as the ultimate, protection document for my client’s money.
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