Powers of Attorney Lawyers in Nashville, Tennessee
Estate planning is a somewhat confusing term to many. First, they may equate it with something that only people who live in estates in gated communities do, or they may think it’s just a matter of creating a will and designating who gets what after they’re gone.
But estate planning involves much more than that. It takes into consideration all of life’s possibilities and puts in place safeguards so that even if you are incapacitated or unavailable, someone can make decisions and implement them for you.
The recent pandemic reminded us that circumstances can change suddenly—healthy one day, facing a life-or-death battle the next. If you’re in the hospital fighting for your life, who is going to manage your finances, and who is going to voice your healthcare treatment decisions to the attending physicians? This is where having a power of attorney (POA) becomes essential.
You can empower someone else to manage your finances for you when you cannot. It doesn’t have to be because of incapacitation, but that certainly is a large consideration. It could simply be that you’re taking a long overseas vacation or that you’ve been called up to active duty overseas.
If you are suddenly incapacitated, you also can set forth your health care wishes in what is known as an advance directive, which used to be called a medical power of attorney. The person you empower can then voice the choices you’ve set forth in the directive.
A power of attorney is an essential part of estate planning and preparing for the future. If you’re in or around Nashville, Tennessee, or anywhere in Rutherford County, and you’re embarking on estate planning—or need to review what you already have in place—contact Brazil Clark, PLLC.
Attorney Frank Brazil and associates will help you create a vision and plan for all of life’s possibilities and guide you in putting in place the legal instruments that will provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones going forward, including the implementation of any powers of attorney to augment that vision.
What Is a Power of Attorney?
The term “power of attorney” may be confusing because it employs the word “attorney.” Some may think that it is something that only an attorney can be empowered with. However, your legal document can name anyone as an attorney-in-fact, or agent, to carry out limited or general duties for you when you cannot or choose not to. You as the creator of the legal document are known as the principal.
A general power of attorney gives the agent you name—family member, friend, associate, or professional—power over all your finances. Your agent can write checks, withdraw funds, buy and sell securities or real property, and in short, do everything that you do to manage your daily affairs.
A limited power of attorney can be more restricted. Say you are taking a long vacation to Europe or elsewhere and you need someone to manage your investment portfolio or your rental properties. You can use a limited POA to authorize someone to act on your behalf in the areas you designate.
Two other terms involving POAs are springing and durable. When you create a power of attorney, you can give your agent immediate authority, whether limited or general, or you can hinge that authority on an event or circumstance. For instance, you can word the document so that your agent is only empowered when you are out of the country on business. This is called a “springing” power of attorney. Without a springing provision, a POA takes effect immediately.
To enable your agent to manage your financial affairs should you become incapacitated, you need to make it “durable.” You can state, for instance: “This power of attorney shall not be affected by subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal." Without such wording in the document, the POA ends upon your incapacitation.
Considerations When Choosing an Agent for Your POA
Obviously, you need to choose someone you trust completely. That’s why the agent is often a family member, but they also can be a close friend or associate. After all, unless it’s a limited POA, they will have complete control over all your assets and day-to-day financial transactions.
Even if it’s limited, you want to make sure the person you name is trustworthy and completely on the same page as you in your goals in life. You may also want to name a successor agent should your primary agent be unavailable or unwilling to undertake the task.
Requirements for a Power of Attorney in Tennessee
The basic requirements for creating a POA in Tennessee are that you must be of adult age, 18 or older, and be of sound mind. A POA can be challenged, much as a will can, if someone asserts that the principal was not of sound mind when creating the document. Then the courts will have to make a determination. The Tennessee code is silent on whether your POA should be notarized, but to ensure its effectiveness and acceptability, notarization is recommended.
A power of attorney is an important document in estate planning and in anticipation of life’s twists and turns. It also confers vast authority upon someone else to act on your behalf, so it is something that should be done in consultation with experienced estate planning attorneys.
Power of Attorney Lawyers Serving Nashville, Tennessee
For all your estate planning needs in or around Nashville, Tennessee, reach out to the legal team at Brazil Clark, PLLC. You will be provided a comprehensive review of your goals and dreams for you and your loved ones, and your legal documents—including any power of attorney—will be expertly crafted to offer the utmost protection.