Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a document that allows an agent to make certain decisions on your behalf when you are unavailable to do so for yourself. It is an important part of estate planning, because it gives you control over who will make financial and health care decisions for you when you cannot.

The Chester County wills and estates lawyers at Eckell Sparks are experienced in all trust and estate matters, including POAs, and can help ensure that your interests are protected.

In a POA, the person making the decisions (the agent) does not necessarily have to be a lawyer. Anyone authorized to take legal action on another’s behalf is an attorney-in-fact, hence the name power of attorney.

A POA traditionally would terminate if you become disabled or incapacitated. However, in Pennsylvania a POA is presumed “durable,” or continuing, after disability or incapacity, unless it explicitly states otherwise.

Types of Power of Attorney

There are two types of power of attorney: financial and health care. Both should be updated every few years, to ensure they are still legal and reflect your current wishes.

POAs that are more than ten years old may not be accepted as valid, due to the likelihood that they are no longer relevant.

Financial POA: This document grants someone the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf. You may give them limited or full control over some or all your financial affairs.

Financial POAs may either be durable or effective for a limited time. They may become effective immediately, or only in the event you become disabled or incapacitated, which is known as a springing POA.

Health Care POA: This document grants someone the ability to make health care decisions on your behalf. In Pennsylvania, your health care provider or their owner, operator, or employees, may not serve as your agent.

You may name the same person to be both your financial and health care agent.

Power of Attorney Requirements in Pennsylvania

Each state has its own requirements for POAs. While there is no specific form for either financial or health care POAs, the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes provides a mandatory Notice and acknowledgement provision to be included in all POAs. You may amend a generic POA form, or one from another state, so long as you include the mandatory Notice and acknowledgement.

To create a health care POA in Pennsylvania, you must be at least 18 years old, or you must have graduated from high school, be married, or legally emancipated.

Additionally, health care POAs must be:

  • Signed by the principal
  • Dated
  • Witnessed by two adults who are at least 18 years old and not the agent
  • Notarized by someone other than the agent

Guardianship Proceedings

If you do not have POA and you become disabled or incapacitated, the court may appoint a guardian. Court-appointed guardians, like POA agents, may resign at any time. The court may also end a guardianship if you can show that you are no longer incapacitated.

Guardianship proceedings tend to be lengthy and expensive. Therefore, it is best to consult with an experienced wills and estate lawyer to create a POA in advance.

Chester County Wills and Estates Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Clients Create Powers of Attorney

For more information on how a Chester County wills and estates lawyer at Eckell Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. can help you with a POA or other estate matters, call us for a free consultation at 610-565-3701 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Media, Delaware County, Chester County and Montgomery County.

A Message to Our Customers About Coronavirus COVID-19:
PLEASE READ »

A Message to Our Clients About Coronavirus COVID-19:

We want to assure everyone that during this unprecedented and difficult time, we are still operating and will continue to meet all the legal needs of the residents of the Delaware Valley. While the Governor’s recent orders have restricted our ability to maintain and run our physical offices, Eckell Sparks has deployed a variety of applications and hardware that allows both our attorneys and our support staff to work remotely from home, prepare legal documents, confer with clients remotely, and provide consultations to those seeking legal advice. For more than 50 years, our Firm has been a force in the Delaware Valley legal community. And by leveraging technology, we will continue to do so both during, and after, the current public health emergency.

So, if you need us, we are here. Do you have a question about whether it’s more beneficial to file your taxes by April 15, despite the postponement of the filing deadlines? Are you an employer and don’t know what to do under all the new Corona-virus laws being passed in Washington? Were you injured in a car accident either before, or during, the current crisis? Call or email us. We can help. www.eckellsparks.com 610-565-3700.

Stay safe out there.