When Should You Update Your Power of Attorney?

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Row of legal documents for notary signing

Most people by now realize that it is important to have certain legal documents in place in the event of an emergency or life event. Powers of attorney (POAs) are generally considered fundamentally necessary planning documents because they control what happens if you can not make decisions for yourself. There are different types of POAs, and rules change from time to time, so planning is not a one-time event.

It is generally recommended that you revisit your estate plan at least once every five years, just to make sure that everything is still relevant and no changes are needed. If it has been a while since you looked at your power of attorney, here are some questions to consider when deciding whether you should update it.

Have You Gotten Married or Divorced?

People sometimes forget that they have created a power of attorney, only to discover years later that an ex-spouse is still listed as the agent. If you suspect you may still have estate planning documents like wills or POAs that still name an ex, it is probably a good time to look at changing those documents.

Have You Been Diagnosed With a Medical Condition?

Some medical conditions may require you to carefully rethink your plans. If you have a diagnosis that may require long-term care in a nursing home, there are specific provisions you may want to add in order protect loved ones and protect your assets. Likewise, if your new medical diagnosis gives you concerns about end of life planning, you will want to meet with an experienced attorney to review your options.

Have You Made Changes to Other Estate Planning Documents?

If you have recently changed a trust or will or have created or changed other estate planning documents, it is a good idea to again look at your POA to make sure it still accomplishes what you want it to.

For instance, your old POA may authorize your agent to make changes to your trust, in the event that you are unable and it is in your best interests. However, let’s say you made your trustee someone different than your agent under the POA. This could create confusion as to who is authorized to act with respect to the trust. Simple issues like this can become big problems later if there is a dispute between your agent and trustee. A careful review of the language of both documents may be necessary to ensure there is no ambiguity and you can avoid problems later on.

Was Your POA Written Before January 1, 2012?

The standard format for an Alabama Power of Attorney changed in 2012. All POAs drafted prior to January 1, 2012 are subject to old requirements. If your POA was written prior to that date, it may be a good idea to consult an Alabama estate planning lawyer to make sure the provisions are all still valid and up-to-date.

Experience Counts When Creating an Estate Plan

With years of experience helping people throughout Birmingham and the surrounding areas, the attorneys of Five Points Law Group are devoted to making sure our clients know their options and have the tools and information necessary to make the best decisions about their future. Come see us today, and set up your own confidential review of your estate plan.

Burton Dunn
Burton Dunn
Burton currently advises clients on their probate law, elder law and estate planning needs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans’ Affairs, estate and trust litigation matters, mental health issues, guardianships/conservatorships, and adoptions.

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