​          A power of attorney is a document that you create (as the “Principal”) that allows you to name at least one individual as your helper (the “Agent”) to act on your behalf.  The agent is designated as your representative and carries out all of those activities that you would do. Under a typical power of attorney, the agent can sign access your bank accounts, manage your investments, pick up your mail, file your taxes and do anything else that you would have done.  As you can see, power of attorney can be a very powerful document. Before you create a power of attorney you should carefully consider who you name as agent.

          A power of attorney is said to be “durable” if the power of attorney contains a provision that states that the power of attorney is still valid even if the Principal becomes disabled.  If you get sick and cannot pay your bills or manage your finances, a power of attorney can be very useful.  The power of attorney is an excellent alternative to the court process of Conservatorship and can save a significant amount of money in avoiding any court-involved process.

         Any good power of attorney should contain provisions that address the long term care needs of the Principal and should contain provisions allowing the agent to deal with and manage any assets of the Principal, including investments and real estate. The power of attorney may also contain provisions allowing the agent to make gifts of the Principals’ assets, and may allow the agent to establish trusts for the Principal.

          A power of attorney should be periodically reviewed and updated.  Typically, a power of attorney, like a will, is drafted and forgotten about, treated as something to “check off my list.” After a period of time, the initial provisions in a power of attorney may become outdated and/or named agents may no longer be appropriate (they may even have died). In addition, sometimes a power of attorney may fail to be recognized by financial institutions.  This usually happens when the power of attorney is more than a of couple years old (i.e. it has become “stale”), even though Massachusetts law specifically prohibits this (i.e. Massachusetts law states that a power of attorney “is not effected by the lapse of time.”).

          If you would like to discuss your legal matter with one of our attorneys please contact this office and arrange for a free initial consultation.