Power of Attorney in Washington
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 Washington, 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 Washington 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 Washington 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.
When a Washington resident grants real estate power of attorney to an agent, they empower this agent to act on their behalf for the sale of any real property in the state. However, if the principal so chooses, they can include a special instructions section which limits the power of the agent in certain areas. This could include certain properties that cannot be sold, or certain thresholds that must be met, such as a minimum price to sell.
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.
Washington Law Help confirms that unless otherwise stated, power of attorney remains durable even if the principal becomes incapacitated. In order to be valid the power of attorney must be signed by both the principal and the agent. The signatures must also be witnessed before a notary public.
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 Washington 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 Washington
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 Washington 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.
The Washington State Legislature confirms that a principal can revoke power of attorney at any time, up until the point of death. However, once the principal has died, power of attorney is no longer relevant, as the will becomes the governing document of the estate. To revoke power of attorney the principal must simply draft a new document, sign and date it, and specify which powers are being revoked. The document must then be filed, along with a copy of the original, with the county clerk.
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.
The Uniform Power of Attorney Act states that Washington residents are free to name a neutral third party as their agent, if they so choose. This can be beneficial when it comes to certain situations, such as making difficult decisions for medical care.. It can be hard for family or friends to enforce the wishes of a principal who may not want to receive life extending care. Naming a neutral third party as your agent, such as a doctor, may remove emotions from the decision making process.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File POA in Washington?
It is wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in Washington trust or estate issues. POA paperwork can be complex, so having a dedicated Washington 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 Washington
If you want to create a power of attorney, you should begin by speaking with an attorney. We can match you with an experienced Washington that can help you navigate your POA. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Washington state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!