Power of Attorney in Massachusetts

Have you ever wondered who would take care of your finances or make decisions for you if you become unable to do so for yourself? Don’t worry about leaving it up to whoever the law says has this right. Look into securing a power of attorney. This legal document allows you to prepare for any situation where you may need someone else to make decisions for you. With the help of an attorney in Massachusetts, you can easily set one up and get peace of mind today.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

The American Bar Association defines power of attorney as a document that gives the power to act on your behalf as a legal agent. This authority may either be temporary, or permanent. The result is that your designated agent can manage your affairs without your written approval.

Why Would You Need a Power of Attorney?

One of the reasons why you may pursue a POA is for convenience. For example, you may rather have someone manage your assets without securing your approval each time. Any Massachusetts POA can circumvent checks and balances, and allow someone to act on your behalf.

Another reason is when you are not able to make legally sound decisions. A POA provides you with security that a person of your choosing can do so for you. This arrangement is common for senior citizens. It also happens with people with severe physical or mental conditions that prevent them from making informed decisions.

Types of Power of Attorney

Not every POA grants the same powers to your agent. You can choose from different POAs to cater to what best suits your situation.

General Power of Attorney

A general POA grants an array of powers to the agent. This can include:

  • The ability to handle your financial matters and accounts
  • Power to manage your insurance needs
  • The ability to operate your business
  • The ability to make business decisions on your behalf
  • Power to hire or fire employees
  • The ability to settle claims against you
  • The ability to change your estate plan.

You may use this type of POA if you will be away for an extended period and need legal representation in Massachusetts to handle your affairs. This legal arrangement may happen during your absence. Or, it may occur in a situation where you cannot make the decisions on your own due to an illness or injury.

Special Power of Attorney

A special POA is more specific. You have the power to sign off on distinct powers granted to your agent. If you only want someone to sign off on real estate deals, for example, a limited power of attorney would be proper. You may use a special POA when you don’t have the time to deal with specific affairs due to time or health constraints.

In Massachusetts, you can specify the areas of authority your agent will have in your power of attorney (POA). These areas can include real estate, taxes, and motor vehicles. In fact, a Limited POA can appoint someone to handle only a single transaction. Furthermore, a Minor POA allows you to temporarily give the authority to care for your child to someone else. If the POA affects real estate transactions, you should file a copy of the POA in the Registry of Deeds in the County where you own the real estate.

Health Care Power of Attorney

This type of POA grants your agent the right to make all medical decisions on your behalf. It comes in handy when you are not conscious or are otherwise unable to make decisions regarding your health care. While state laws can differ, your POA could have the ability to make serious decisions, like ending life support.

You may use a health care POA if you are elderly or sick. You might find yourself in a situation where you can’t make decisions on your own. Power of attorney can transfer to your child or someone you trust so that care can continue in your best interests.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney enables the agent to control specified functions. DPOAs are useful if you anticipate losing your mental faculties, such as after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. In essence, it acts as a preventative safeguard.

Unlike many states, Massachusetts has not yet adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. However, Massachusetts House Bill 1598 is pending concurrence, with a reporting date extended to April 15, 2022. Existing Massachusetts statute requires a durable power of attorney to be in writing and signed by the competent principal. Currently, a power of attorney (POA) is not durable by default. The POA must contain words that show it is the principal’s intent that the agent’s authority is exercisable notwithstanding the principal’s subsequent disability or incapacity.

Choosing an Agent

The person you choose as an agent should be someone you trust. Often, people choose a family member. Your family members usually have your best interests in mind and are close to you. However, you can select any individual to be your POA. Keep in mind that whoever you choose will be in charge of managing your affairs and should be someone you trust to  honor your wishes.

Appointing Multiple Agents

As principal, in Massachusetts you have the right to appoint multiple agents. You decide whether these agents act together or make separate decisions. Having two or more agents establishes a system of checks and balances. This procedure keeps one agent from making too rash of a judgment. However, it can also lead to discrepancies that can cause delays.

At the very least, it is crucial to have a backup POA should something happen to your primary. A successor agent can take control once the primary agent either passes away or cannot carry out the duties of an agent.

Revoking a Power of Attorney in Massachusetts

You have the right to revoke your power of attorney at any time as long as you are of sound mind to do so. You will need to put your revocation in writing and file it with the same place in Massachusetts that handled your original POA paperwork.

Another party may also try to revoke your POA. Although, that becomes a much more complex legal proceeding and would be difficult to prove in court. The person would have to show the agent has done something to jeopardize your interests.

Massachusetts statute dictates that a power of attorney (POA) revocation must be in writing and executed by the principal. Additionally, the attorney in fact (AIF) must receive the revocation for it to be binding. For a real estate POA, the revocation should also be filed with the Registry of Deeds. Furthermore, if the principal dies, the AIF continues to have agency if they do not have actual knowledge of the death.

Using a POA to Protect your Interests

You can insert provisions into your agreement that force your agent to report to an outside party. For example, a family accountant or a designated medical doctor could fill this role. This arrangement adds another layer of security and guarantees that another party can review decisions.

In Massachusetts, a principal may designate two or more persons to act as co-agents in a power of attorney (POA). Additionally, Massachusetts law dictates that the court appointment of a guardian/conservator does not revoke a power of attorney. The agent is accountable to the guardian/conservator as well as to the principal.  The guardian/conservator has the same power to revoke or amend the power of attorney that the principal would have had if not impaired.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File POA in Massachusetts?

It is wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in Massachusetts trust or estate issues. POA paperwork can be complex, so having a dedicated Massachusetts legal professional can be helpful. A lawyer can also help you add provisions that safeguard your interests when you cannot look out for yourself.

Work with an Experienced Local Lawyer in Massachusetts

If you want to create a power of attorney, you should begin by speaking with an attorney. We can match you with an experienced Massachusetts that can help you navigate your POA. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Massachusetts state lines.

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