There are many types of powers of attorney (POA), and each covers different areas and has different purposes. Read on for answers to common questions about POA.
Can I Use a POA After the Principal Dies?
No. The person who gives the power of attorney is called the principal, and the person given the power is often called the agent. A valid power of attorney expires after the death of the principal, so the agent cannot act under the POA after the principal’s death.
If I am an Agent of a POA, Can I Stop the Principal from Giving Money Away?
Only financial—or durable—POAs allows the agent to make financial decisions for the principal. In this case, agents can be given the power to make gifting or donating decisions for the principal. But the agent also owes a fiduciary duty to the principal to act in the principal’s best interests. If stopping the principal from gifting or donating is contrary to the principal’s best interests, it may be possible for the principal or a third party to revoke the POA.
What Can I Do As a POA?
Medical POAs are authorized to make medical and treatment decisions for the principal. Financial or durable POA are authorized to make a wide range of financial decisions, including buying or selling property or assets, applying for benefits, managing a business, investing, or filing lawsuits on the principal’s behalf.
If I Have a Medical POA, Do I Need Anything Else?
Medical POAs are only authorized to make medical and treatment decisions. A durable or financial POA can take all of the financial actions listed above in the previous answer. In addition, an individual may want to create directives to physicians or other advance directives such as an out-of-hospital do not resuscitate to ensure their wishes are carried out.
Who Should Be My Agent?
Someone trustworthy. Your closest friends and family may not have the skills needed to manage your affairs, so don’t let emotions cloud your choice.
Should I Have Multiple Agents?
In Texas, it is legal to name two or more co-agents. They must agree on every decision, so think carefully about whether your potential agents are aligned and working toward your best interest.
Can I Give a POA Over Just One Asset?
With careful planning, yes. A limited or special POA can allow an agent to handle a specific matter. Or a durable or financial power of attorney can be so clearly defined and limited that the agent only has control over specific tasks or assets.
Can I Transfer Rights Under a POA?
In Texas, you can transfer rights if specifically provided in the POA.
Can anything override a POA?
Yes. POA can be overridden by a guardianship or, if the assets are in a trust, the trustee will have the final say in how the assets are controlled.
When does a POA become effective?
Immediately upon signing, unless provided for otherwise in the documents.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney for Further Assistance with Your Questions
The Houston estate planning team at McCulloch Miller, PLLC has extensive experience executing POA and other long-term strategies for our clients. Contact our office at 713-936-9073 to schedule an initial consultation with an attorney on our team.